It’s never been more clear that Hudson County’s ruling conservative Democratic establishment is out of touch. It takes a special kind of delusion to take offense when both of your U.S. Senators and local activists are united in strong opposition to your taking blood money from ICE. Yet, County Executive DeGise and Freeholder Chairman Vainieri stick to their guns.
So it’s easy to forget that this summer, Hudson County voters received ballots with Senator Cory Booker neatly stacked atop a column of candidates that included Freeholder Vainieri. It wasn’t unfair then to assume they would have similar values. They’re grouped up after all, right? They even have the same official-sounding slogan! The sad reality is these people not only disagree on policy; they barely talk to one another. Besides posing for a photo-op at a big-ticket fundraiser, they barely know each other. Nonetheless, the ballot’s design deceives people into voting “down the line.”
In any “red” state, Democrats sound the alarm in defense of democracy when the GOP abuses the rules to give themselves an unfair advantage. Just last year, a federal court in Florida ruled unconstitutional a ballot design trick that gave the GOP a 5% advantage on Election Day. Victory! Yet, a recent study shows that conservatives on the establishment line get a 35% advantage in our Democratic primaries before even a single ballot is cast. How is it acceptable for Democrats to do that in “blue” New Jersey?
It’s no wonder then that advocacy always falls on deaf ears. The conservative establishment machine has so thoroughly insulated these officials from consequences that they feel as if they can act with impunity.
Salvation won’t come from our elected officials, since everyone from Governor Murphy to your neighborhood’s county committeeperson benefits directly from the line ballot’s deception. That’s why the Progressive Legal Defense Fund, a project started by the Progressive Democrats of New Jersey, has already filed suit in federal court to end voter deception. It’s never been more clear that New Jersey needs to stop lying to its voters and abolish the unconstitutional line ballot system.
In the meantime, if Tom DeGise wants us to bring it, we’ll see you at the ballot box.
Ricardo Luis Rojas Estrada