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Employees of the Union County Clerk's Office draw ballot positions for the 2020 primary election in April. (Photo: Facebook/NJ Globe.)

County Clerks to draw for ballots at 3 PM

By David Wildstein, August 10 2020 1:55 pm

Minor political parties have no statutory preference for general election ballot drawings over candidates who simply received enough signatures to gain a place on the November ballot.

County Clerks will draw for ballot position at 3 PM today.  Most of the clerks have announced that they will broadcast their draws online.

Most clerks plan to draw presidential candidates first, although some officials acknowledged that a case could be made for U.S. Senate candidates to be the initial official drawn.  New Jersey law requires the highest offices to go first; theoretically, voters are actually casting their ballots for candidates for Elector, not directly for a candidate for president.

Democrats and Republicans, the two major political parties in New Jersey, will compete for the top two ballot lines or columns, A and B or 1 and 2.

The next drawing will be for the six independent presidential candidates who filed in New Jersey and were certified by Secretary of State Tahesha Way on Sunday: Howie Hawkins (Green Party); Jo Jorgenson (Libertarian Party); Don Blankenship (Constitution Party); Rocky De La Fuente (Alliance Party); Bill Hammons (Unity Party); and Gloria Estela La Riva (Socialism and Liberation).

New Jersey recognizes seven minor political parties: Green, Libertarian, Constitution, Socialist, Conservative, Natural Law and Reform.  Recognition allows voters to specifically register as members of those parties, but when it comes to ballot drawings there is no difference between a candidate picked by a minor party convention and those who obtain 800 valid signatures on their nominating petitions.

Only one minor party candidate filed for the U.S. Senate: Madelyn Hoffman of the Green Party.  Hoffman is expected to be bracketed with Hawkins, wherever he winds up on the ballot.

Two other independent U.S. Senate candidates filed petitions: Daniel Burke (LaRouche Was Right); and Veronica Fernandez (Of, By, For!).

While County Clerks have considerable discretion on ballot design, Burke and Fernandez could wind up on the bottom 9th or 10th columns.

The Libertarian Party has candidates for Congress in the 2nd, 4th, 8th, and 10th districts that could be bracketed with Jorgenson.  The Green Party filed no House candidates in New Jersey.

As of August 1, 78,648 New Jerseyans are registered to one of those seven parties.  That includes two parties — Natural Law (7,003) and Reform (1,972) – that have been defunct for sixteen years.  The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission acknowledged in June that a computer glitch has misdirected some voter registration choices to minor parties they never actually chose.

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