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Judge says New Jersey ballot ruling only applies to Democratic races

New Jersey is one step closer to last week overhauling its nationally unique electoral ballota decision that could reshape party politics in the state for years to come.

But for the two major parties, at least not immediately.

On Saturday, the federal judge who ordered the redesign responded Lawsuit filed in February The three Democratic candidates said in statements that only Democratic primaries, which include the race to replace Sen. Robert Menendez, will have to use the new ballots. He wrote that Republican votes could remain unchanged, although he said his order did not prohibit Republican leaders from choosing to change their party’s votes.

The clarification is the latest twist in a long-running New Jersey legal battle Shifting the balance of electoral power away from party-endorsed candidates and opening the door to newcomers from both parties. But if the decision stands, Republicans could also be forced to change their votes soon, though perhaps not in time for the June election, said Julia Sass Rubin, a professor of public policy at Rutgers University who co-authored the lawsuit. Expert witness, she said, this is the fourth primary.

“This is just a small issue,” Dr. Rubin said. “If this decision stands, it will completely upend New Jersey politics.”

On Friday, Federal Judge Zahid N. Quraishi of the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey said: Judgment in favor of the case Changes to the primary ballot format used in 19 of New Jersey’s 21 counties, which have historically favored candidates put forward by party leaders.

Nicholas Stephanopoulos, a professor at Harvard Law School, said so-called county voting, in which candidates favored by local political leaders are concentrated prominently, is an anomaly in the United States that only New Jersey uses this system. School.

Democratic Rep. Andy Kim, who is running for Menendez’s Senate seat, argued that despite his rising support in the polls, he is still at a disadvantage in the race because party officials support Gov. Philip The candidacy of his wife, Tammy Murphy. D. Murphy King and two other Democratic congressional candidates filed a lawsuit in February to push for the ballot redesign.

Mr. King declined to comment on Sunday.

Menendez said earlier this month that he faces charges including conspiracy to receive bribes, obstruction of justice and conspiring to act as a foreign agent He will not run for re-election This year as a Democrat. Ms. Murphy recently dropped out of school Democratic primary.

Although the judge’s decision affects only the Democratic primary, some Republican candidates who could benefit from the ballot modifications are also agitating for change.

Christine Serrano Glassner, a Republican primary candidate for Senate who endorsed former President Donald J. Trump, said in a statement Friday that she supports eliminating the current voting system.

“County lines are now irrelevant and the playing field has been leveled for candidates who support Trump and have grassroots support,” she said.

A spokesman for her Republican opponent, Curtis Bashaw, could not be reached.

Several county clerks are planning to appeal the decision to amend the ballots, but have little time to do so. Yael Bromberg, an attorney representing inmates, said the federal deadline to mail ballots to overseas and military voters is April 20. in this case.

Rajiv D. Parikh, an attorney representing the county clerk who may appeal the decision, declined to comment.

But Ms. Bloomberg said that as of Sunday, two of the 19 counties using county line ballots had said they would not appeal the judge’s decision, and the others were expected to comply with the order.

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