State of New Jersey

New Jersey Ballot Design Challenge

Conforti v. Hanlon

Lawsuit filed on behalf of past and future New Jersey candidates running for state and federal office against county clerks challenging the ballot design implemented during the counties’ primary elections. Under New Jersey law, counties can implement a “bracketing system” for primary elections where groups of candidates are bracketed together, rather than listed in a column that is specific to the office they are running for. This means that candidates running for the same office can be listed in different columns (which may not be next to each other) and candidates for different offices can appear in the same column. In the challenged counties, candidates endorsed by the county party are also bracketed together in a single column on the ballot. This means that candidates who are not endorsed by the county party or who choose not to be bracketed with other candidates will be listed separately and, due to the preference given to bracketed candidates, unbracketed candidates will be listed further to the right and/or bottom on ballots. The plaintiffs allege that this ballot design treats candidates differently and violates the First and 14th Amendments and Elections Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Case Documents

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