New Jersey Socialist Party Sues to Enable Voters to Register as Socialist Party Members

New Jersey is one of the 31 states that asks voters on the voter registration form to choose a party, or independent status. However, New Jersey has a very strange policy to determine which parties voters can join, on voter registration forms. For the last 93 years, the only qualified parties in New Jersey have been the Democratic and Republican Parties. Until 2001, no one could register in New Jersey except as a Democrat, a Republican, or an independent. In 2001 the New Jersey State Appeals Court ruled that voters must be allowed to register into parties that are not qualified, but which regularly place nominees on the ballot. Unqualified parties do that by submitting petitions for their nominees; the ballots contain the names of those unqualified parties, next to the names of their nominees.

The 2001 court decision was won by five parties: Constitution, Green, Libertarian, Natural Law, and Reform. The state then started letting voters register into those parties, but never set out any regulations, or any updated laws, giving general guidance as to which unqualified parties could qualify for voter registration rights. Later the Conservative Party won a similar lawsuit, so voters could register into that party also. So, New Jersey, in practice, requires parties to sue, before they can enjoy voter registration rights.

On June 24, the Socialist Party of New Jersey sued for the same registration rights. Here is the complaint. When the Conservative Party had sued New Jersey, the state didn’t contest the lawsuit. It will be interesting to see how the state responds to the Socialist Party’s lawsuit. The party already asked for voter registration rights and the state refused.


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