Tag Archives: Voters

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:

100,000 Voters Affected by New Law in Virginia that Requires Photo I.D.

On Thursday, the Virginia State Board of Elections announced that approximately 100,000 Virginia voters might be unable to cast a vote in the November midterm elections, due to the fact that they do not have the proper identification.

According to the Washington Post, a new law that went into effect in Virginia this year stated that, “Virginia voters must present a driver’s license or some other form of photo identification at their polling stations before they cast a vote.”

While voters can fill out provisional ballots on November 4, election officials hope the new law will convince citizens to pursue a form of state-issued identification, such as a driver’s license.

The Help America Vote Act requires identification for all first-time voters in the United States who register by mail. Eighteen states require no further identification, other than a registered voter’s card. While other states have various rules about the type of identification they require at the polls, Virginia is one of 34 states that require a photo ID issued by either the state or the federal government.

According to the Virginia State board, 457,931 residents in the state do not have a state-issued driver’s license, which is the most common form of identification.

The campaign manager for Fairfax County’s Supervisor Democrat John W. Foust, Shaun Daniels, said that the number of voters who wouldn’t be able to cast their vote was “definitely an issue.”

Daniels added, “You can tell the motivations by who is working to solve this and trying to educate people and who is not.”

According to a state attorney at Fair Elections Legal Network, Courtney Mills, the number of voters without a driver’s license is approximately 300,000 in Wisconsin, 500,000 in Pennsylvania, and 700,000 in Texas.

The Washington Post reported that the new laws in Virginia have generated “criticism from groups that argue that the laws unfairly target immigrants and low-income voters who are less likely to have a driver’s license or other form of photo ID,” and that out of the 34 states that have passed laws requiring voters identification, “Virginia has among the strictest rules.”