Tag Archives: End Partisanship

End Partisanship Files Appeal in NJ Lawsuit Seeking Equal Voter Rights

Last week, the coalition End Partisanship filed an appellant brief with the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in New Jersey, regarding a lawsuit they originally filled in March, which challenged the constitutionality of the state’s current requirements for primary elections.

In the state of New Jersey, 47% of voters are registered as Independent. However, despite the fact these voters are not affiliated with either the Republican or the Democratic parties in New Jersey, they are still forced to fund the primary elections, which only allow participation from Democratic and Republican candidates.

“Appellants have not asked this court (and did not ask the lower court) to issue a decision that would require political parties to allow non-party members to access their Candidate Nomination Proceedings,” stated the appeal. “Rather, Appellants have proceeded from the premise that the State cannot fund, administer, and sanction an integral stage of its election process that excludes a near majority of all registered voters.” 

Chad Peace, a legal advisor from the Independent Voter Project, referred to New Jersey’s current restrictions as “taxation without representation.”

In an email to Benswann.com, Peace pointed out that although 47% of the voters in New Jersey were “forced to pay over $12 million for a primary election that they were not even allowed to participate in,” the success of the current appeal would have implications that are nationwide.

The right to vote derives from citizenship; not by joining a political party,” said Peace. “If the state funds, administers, and sanctions an important stage of the political process, every voter has the right to participate, regardless of his or her party affiliation.”

End Partisanship, which is a coalition of leaders from different political organizations, is working to break the two-party system’s hold on primary elections. Their original lawsuit was filed in March, and has received a negative response from the state of New Jersey.

In May, New Jersey Secretary of State, Kim Guadagno, filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. End Partisanship replied to the motion, arguing that the current primary system in New Jersey  “conditions a voter’s right to participate on giving up their right to not join a private political party,” and “violates New Jersey’s own constitutional prohibition against the private use of taxpayer funds.

Guadagno submitted a reply in July, on behalf of the State, insisting “a voter who feels disenfranchised because of a regulation that conditions participation in primary elections on party membership should simply join the party.”

In August, a New Jersey Federal District Court Judge dismissed the lawsuit filed by End Partisanship, and ruled that only Republicans and Democrats are “qualified” to vote in the state of New Jersey.

The latest appeal from the coalition was filed on November 4. It argues that the lower court’s “use of inapplicable case law,” and its failure to address the coalition’s claims, “catapults a derivative right of political organizations to control their associations ahead of an individual’s fundamental rights.”

The appeal demands that the State must “respect and balance” the individual’s fundamental right to “vote at all integral stages of an election process” and to “be treated fairly and equally regardless of affiliation or non-affiliation with a specific political organization.”

Investigative Journalist Ben Swann addressed the issue of the restrictions New Jersey has placed on its voters, and End Partisanship’s effort to make a difference, in an episode of Truth in Media:

NJ Judge Dismisses Lawsuit for Equal Voter Rights

Last week, a New Jersey Federal District Court Judge dismissed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of New Jersey’s closed primary system, and ruled that only Republicans and Democrats are “qualified” to vote.

The lawsuit was originally filed by the organization End Partisanship, a coalition of leaders from different political organizations who seek to break the two-party system’s hold on primary elections. They stood up for the 47%, or 2.6 million voters in New Jersey who are not affiliated with a political party, and who do not currently have a voice.

The lawsuit asserts “all voters have a fundamental right to equal and meaningful access to all integral stages of the electoral process.”

In May, New Jersey Secretary of State Kim Guadagno responded by filing a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. She argued that U.S. citizens in New Jersey do not have a right to vote in primary elections, but political parties do have a right to use taxpayer dollars to fund them.

The lawsuit replied, highlighting the fact that the “primary conditions a voter’s right to participate on giving up their right to not join a private political party,” the fact that the “partisan primary effectively dilutes the voting power of non-party voters,” and the fact that the “system violates New Jersey’s own constitutional prohibition against the private use of taxpayer funds.

In July, Guadagno submitted a reply to the lawsuit, on behalf of the State of New Jersey, arguing “a voter who feels disenfranchised because of a regulation that conditions participation in primary elections on party membership should simply join the party.”

On August 12, the plaintiffs filed a surreply, claiming that the State is  “suggesting that there is an irreconcilable conflict between the individual right to cast a meaningful vote and the right of the Democratic and Republican parties to operate as private organizations,” which is confusing the real issue.

The surreply stated that, “Fundamental rights are, by nature, nonpartisan.” It went on to say that the State of New Jersey’s position is one that every voter in New Jersey should reject, due to the fact that their “rights within the democratic process may be conditioned on membership in one of two private organizations which almost half of all voters have chosen not to associate with.

Once the Judge’s decision to dismiss the lawsuit was announced, attorneys from the End Partisanship coalition told the Independent Voter Network that they are “preparing an appeal of the decision which will be sought on an accelerated basis.”

Both parties knew when this case was filed that because of its magnitude and effect on the primary system, and because the plaintiffs were asking a legal question the Supreme Court has not yet opined on, that the real fight would be taken forward through the appellate level and, potentially, the Supreme Court.” said an Advisor to the Independent Voter Project, Michael Thorsnes. “By dismissing the lawsuit, with prejudice, the court has confirmed that the case contains no factual, but only legal issues, creating a stage for the next level of review.”

New Jersey laws now require 47 percent of voters in New Jersey not affiliated with a political party to, against their will, join one of the two major parties to vote in the primary,” said Thorsnes.

Lawsuit Responds To Argument That Voters Have No Rights in Primaries, But Must Pay For Them

On Thursday, New Jersey voters responded in court to a motion to dismiss a lawsuit, filed by New Jersey Secretary of State, Kim Guadagno.

Investigative Journalist, Ben Swann, first placed a spotlight on the lawsuit in March, when he discussed “End Partisanship” on an episode of Truth in Media. “New Jersey requires that a voter affiliate with a political party approved by the State as a precondition to participating in the primary process,” explained Swann.

This requirement has created major problems for the 47.6% of voters in New Jersey who don’t fall into the State’s approved category of either Democrat or Republican, yet are still required to fund the primary elections through tax dollars. Those who weren’t being properly represented in New Jersey chose to fight back with a lawsuit, using the organization End Partisanship.

End Partisanship is a coalition formed by leaders from different political organizations who seek to to break the two-party system’s hold on primary elections by making their candidates stronger, and by giving a voice to those who either have a third party affiliation, or none at all. A legal advisor from the Independent Voter Project, Chad Peace, described End Partisanship as having developed a “state by state legal strategy defending the rights of individual independent voters in the courtroom.”

The lawsuit End Partisanship filed in New Jersey was a first from the organization, and its leaders plan to use it as a blueprint they can eventually apply to all states. Ben Swann explained that the suit “seeks to protect the fundamental right to vote under the New Jersey and United States Constitutions, which have no requirement that a voter forfeit their First Amendment right not to associate with a political party.”

In May, General John J. Hoffman, an Attorney for the secretary of state’s office, filed a motion to dismiss the challenge on the constitutionality of New Jersey’s primary election system. New Jersey Secretary of State, Kim Guadagno, responded to the constituents by arguing that while American citizens in New Jersey do not have a right to vote in primary elections, political parties do have a right to use taxpayer dollars to fund them.

The supporters of End Partisanship took to court on July 3, to respond to the motion to dismiss the lawsuit. They stated that they had simply asked the State to ensure that the publicly funded primary election system not function as a private enterprise that deprives them of their ability to cast a meaningful vote. They pointed out that by keeping their votes from having equal representation, the state “confers on those private political parties a gratuitous advantage.”

The lawsuit acknowledged the fact that giving the State, “the veil of state sovereignty would de facto immunize private interests from constitutional scrutiny whenever the State, or an actor of the State, is so influenced by those private interests that they become one and the same.”

The lawsuit went on to say that while the State looks to extend its holding by arguing that voters have no fundamental right to participate in the primary stage of an electoral process, the Plaintiff contends that “the State’s primary election system, taken as a whole, confers a special benefit to the dominant private political parties and their members to the complete exclusion of nearly half of all registered voters.”

Plaintiffs assert the necessity of an electoral system that provides all voters an equally meaningful opportunity to participate at all integral stages of the election process, including the primary,” stated the lawsuit.

At a time when unaffiliated voters make up 47 percent of the State’s electorate, the need for judicial intervention is compelling.”

Truth in Media “End Partisanship”

Ben Swann explains how the new coalition of EndPartisanship.org is working to break the 2 party hold on primary elections, which currently lock around 50% of voters out of the process. Plus, Ben details a lawsuit that has now been filed in the state of New Jersey to break that hold.

To learn more about the effort visit Endpartisanship.org

TRANSCRIPT

America is in a very tough place. Our economy is struggling. The
value of our dollar, shrinking. Our debt, skyrocketing.

We continue to let a mentality of aggression and suspicion
interrupt the confidence we claim to have in our freedom. There
seems to be no vision for utilizing the tools we have today to
produce a future that is better for everyone; the rich, the poor,
women, men, Christians, Muslims, Atheists… heterosexuals,
homosexuals, Black, Hispanic, in short… individual people.

The only thing bigger than these, and many more problems seems
to be the fact that America’s two major parties, Republicans and
Democrats, don’t have answers. No matter which party is in
power, the problems only get worse.

So what if I told you, the real problem at root of many of these
others, is with the two party hold on the election process and that if
we want to fix the biggest issues of our time, we just first correct
the primary election system.

I’m Ben Swann and the first step toward truth…is to be informed.

If you are a mainstream news watcher, you may have never seen
this video before. It is from the 2012 Republican primary. This
particular scene is from Missouri at the state convention.
Republican leadership in the state didn’t like the way registered
Republicans were voting, so they shut down their convention and
changed the rules on the spot.

That was a pretty wild scene. If you haven’t seen it before then you
likely don’t know the biggest mostly untold story of the 2012
election. That this crazy scene where Republican voters were
attempting to vote for their candidate were shut out of the process.
It didn’t happen only 1 time, and it didn’t happen in only 1 state.
This was Arizona.

In Oklahoma, the lights were turned off and Republican voters
attempted to reconvene the convention in the parking lot.

Over and over across the nation, from one state to another, from
county to another, Republican voters were locked out of their own
party’s process because party leadership didn’t like who they were
voting for.

In Louisiana, the voters were so angry about the way they were
being treated by the state Republican leadership, they picked up
their chairs and turned their backs on an appointed chairman in this
convention because the party rules were being violated.

When confronted about these issues, the Republican Party took the
position that they are a private club and therefore have the right to
change the rules however and whenever they like.
That is very important so we will come back to that in a minute.

Throughout this program, we are going to give you quite a few
numbers. But lets start with these. The number 2…in the United
States, as you know, we have only 2 major parties: the Republican
and the Democratic parties.
If you watch most national media you would think that the country
is fairly divided when it comes to politics. That there is almost a
cosmic battle between the so-called left and right. In theory, about
50% of the nation is blue (Democrat) and about 50% is red
(Republican).
But that is not true. In fact, about 40% of voters in the United
States now say they are “independent” voters.

Voters like Jackie Salit, president of IndependentVoting.org who says

“First of all, I’m an independent like about 40% of the country and
I feel very strongly that the system is rigged in the direction of the
political parties and I feel that making membership in a party a
condition for full voting rights is unconstitutional but is also
counter to what American democracy really is supposed to be
about.”

Jackie isn’t alone. Nearly half of all voters in the United States are
not affiliated with either the Republican or Democratic parties.
And yet there are only two options available to them? Why is that?
Much of it comes back to the primary system. A system that has
crippled the American electorate. Crippled how? Consider this…
In just about any congressional district in the country, you have
either a majority of Republican or Democratic voters. That
happens because of either community values or because of
redistricting where parties carve out a state to make sure they have
an advantage.

Within that district, on average only 9% of voters will take part in
a primary election. Now remember, congressional and state
legislative districts have been carved and re-carved and re-carved
to make sure that candidates only have to win primaries in order to
win the general election.

Crunch some numbers and it doesn’t take long to figure out that a
candidate only has to pull a little more than 3% of the vote in a
major party’s primary in order to win the at-large seat. 3% of the
vote in order to represent 100% of the constituency. How is that
representative government?

Dan Howle, a board member with the Independent Voter Project says
this is core of what is wrong with American partisanship.

“Politicians in Washington and in state capitals across the country
go back to their districts and they have to appeal to a very small
segment of voters in the primary elections. Generally speaking this
small segment of the voters are the most partisan voters. Until
politicians are accountable to every voter in their district, you are
going to end up with the same kind of partisanship that we have
now.” says Hall.

So under our current political system, we find ourselves with
political parties and politicians who should represent everyone but
are incentivized to represent a small and strident portion of the
electorate.

“Politicians who are in office want to get reelected and when they
only have to appeal to a very small swath of the electorate, they act
accordingly but when they have to appeal to everyone across the
political spectrum, their behavior changes.” says Hall.

That is why Dan and Jackie and representatives from a number of
other political organizations have come together to form a new
coalition that’s called End Partisanship. The goal: to break the two party
hold on primary elections by making their candidates
stronger, and leveling the playing field for those with a third party
affiliation, or none at all.

“We want to end partisanship. The dominant approach which has
been to regulate campaign finance is an ineffective and outdated
mode of reforming politics.”

So what specifically is End Partisanship attempting to do?
Number one, they believe that the right to vote is fundamental and
that means…
“Fighting for the rights of all Americans whether they are in a
political party or not to have full access to the political process.”
Of course, the Republican and Democratic parties would have no
problem with that at face value.

Both parties would say they believe in the fundamental right to
vote. And they want involvement of every American in the
process.

Number 2, End Partisanship believes the right to vote cannot be
abridged by a requirement to join any organization.

“What things, what kinds of actions can we take that will get
independent voters equal opportunity and equal access to the ballot
as partisan voters?”

That second point is very important. Across the nation, both
Republicans and Democrats have closed primaries meaning that
you must be a registered voter within their party to be allowed to
vote in a primary.

So remember what I told you about 40% of voters being
Independents and still others are registered Green Party,
Libertarian party, Constitution party, Justice party, etc.
That means, at least half of all voters are locked out of
participating in the primary vote that ultimately decides their
representatives. And yet according to Chad Peace with the
Independent Voter Project, that is exactly what is happening.

“My right to participate in our democracy should not be
conditioned. I should not have to join a party.”

Now you might say… tough. If you want to change that, then don’t
be an Independent. Don’t be a Libertarian or Green Party member.
Join the republican and democratic party and make your vote count
in the primary.
Glad you brought that up…
Remember the video we started with, the video that demonstrates
what happened in 2012. That is exactly the problem. Over 2
million Republican primary voters attempted to do that in 2012.
But state after state, the rules were changed, sometimes in the
middle of a convention. And remember why? Because the
Republican Party insisted it could do so, claiming that it is a
private club.

That brings us to the third principle of the End Partisanship
coalition.
Public funds should not be used to subsidize activities of political
parties that abridge a voter’s right to meaningful participation in
the election process.

“They say we have the right to tell people they can’t vote in our
primaries because we are private organizations. So the second
cause of action is very simple. If you are a private organization,
start acting like one, meaning you shouldn’t be accepting taxpayer
dollars and tax payers shouldn’t have to fund primaries if you
aren’t going to let everybody vote in them.”

You see, while Republicans were saying they are a private club,
they are at the same time accepting hundreds of millions in
taxpayer dollars to subsidize these primary elections.

According to a report by IVN or the Independent Voter Network,
taxpayers across the nation spent approximately $400 million to
administer party elections in 2012.

The study compiled data from nine states which was then projected
across the country:
The nine states: Texas, New York, North Dakota, Idaho,
Tennessee, Indiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Rhode Island.
• Texas $15,883,428.32 $1.57
• Indiana $6,969,771.96 $2.24
• Tennessee $4,577,041.57 $1.57
• Oklahoma $2,933,104.00 $1.63
• Idaho $2,840,471.00 $3.93
• North Dakota $1,352,114.00 $3.39
 Now to be clear, the costs of the primary varied from $1.32 to
almost $4 per voter in some states. And then there are other
examples. For instance, New York’s 2012 primaries cost $11 per
voter.  Rhode Island and South Carolina’s primaries were
approximated by their elections commissions at $750,000 and
$3,500,000, respectively.

So to be clear, only 9% of the population on average is taking part
in primary elections that are costing taxpayers $400 million
dollars?

If the Republican and Democratic parties are private clubs, why
aren’t they paying for their private primaries themselves? If
taxpayers are forced to pay for the primaries, why isn’t anyone and
everyone allowed to participate?
So how to fix this?

As with many things, one of the first steps of the End Partisanship
coalition is a lawsuit.
“We have developed a state by state legal strategy defending the
rights of individual independent voters in the courtroom.”
State by state…taking on unconstitutional and unlawful control of
the political process. End Partisanship has filed their first lawsuit
as a blueprint in New Jersey.
In New Jersey, 47.6% of registered voters, nearly one half, were
registered in 2013 as unaffiliated voters. And yet, New Jersey
requires that a voter affiliate with a political party approved by the
State as a precondition to participating in the primary process.
The suit seeks to protect the fundamental right to vote under the
New Jersey and United States Constitutions, which have no
requirement that a voter forfeit their First Amendment right not to
associate with a political party.
By denying over 2.6 million New Jersey voters the right to cast a
vote in the primary election, the State has disenfranchised nearly
half of its electorate, and thereby, given private political parties
and partisan voters a greater and unequal access to the voting
franchise.
Additionally, under the New Jersey Constitution, neither the state
nor a county may appropriate money for use of any private
association.
“What the lawsuit is doing is asserting for the first time, asserting
the rights of Independent voters. Not on behalf of a group whether
its race based or gender or have the same rights as everyone else to
have a meaningful vote in the political process.”

What you need to know is that a concerted effort to spread the End
Partisanship lawsuit to every state in the nation is underway. But
one important point should be made here. This effort is not about
ending political parties. It is about protecting the voter and the
taxpayer from a scheme put into law by politicians who answer to
their party bosses and not to the people they claim to represent.
This effort is about opening up the political process. After all…
Wouldn’t the “Democratic” position advocate for an electoral
process where the most people have an opportunity to have a
meaningful vote?

Wouldn’t the “Republican” position have candidates run to
represent the people of the district, not members of their party’s
central committee?

Wouldn’t the “Libertarian” position provide the individual with a
superior right to ballot access than that of any party?

Wouldn’t the “individual” right to vote in our democratic republic,
for the people, by the people, derive from the individual person?

Of course it does because the founders and framers knew that the individual’s rights always trump politics.

Humanity is Greater than Politics