Fusion voting, a practice that allows candidates to run under the banners of multiple parties in a single election, was banned by New Jersey lawmakers roughly a century ago. (Photo by New Jersey Monitor)
The New Jersey Moderate Party has asked the state Supreme Court to consider its bid to overturn a constitutional bar on fusion voting, saying the high court’s involvement is needed to resolve its suit before the 2024 election.
In a motion filed Thursday, the party said courts should move to quickly resolve the suit to avoid running elections in a manner the party claims is unconstitutional and to ensure the case gets proper scrutiny within a state court. The case is now being heard in the Appellate Division.
“Our party must make nominations by early June 2024 for important offices, including Congress. To do so, we need our lawsuit decided well before then,” said Rick Wolfe, the party’s founder. “Delay in deciding our case would prevent us from exercising our constitutional rights with respect to the 2024 election, which is a critical election year in New Jersey and at the federal level.”
The nascent party seeks to overturn a state ban on fusion voting, a practice that allows candidates to run under the banners of multiple parties in a single election. New Jersey lawmakers banned fusion voting roughly a century ago.
The Moderate Party in 2022 sought to nominate then-Rep. Tom Malinowski, a Democrat, but Secretary of State Tahesha Way blocked the move, citing the state prohibition. The party appealed the decision last April, alleging the ban on fusion voting infringes on rights to free speech and assembly, among others.
“We are confident the courts will right that wrong and let us restore civility and collaboration to the political process and protect the principles of democracy upon which our country was founded,” Wolfe said.
Numerous and ideologically disparate groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, the Cato Institute, former Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, and five bipartisan former members of Congress, have signed on to support the party’s bid to legalize fusion voting.
But the move has drawn opposition from Republicans and some Democrats, who have respectively claimed efforts to enact fusion voting were a cynical ploy to shepherd Malinowski through a difficult reelection campaign or that they would do little but confuse voters.
Malinowski lost reelection to Rep. Tom Kean (R-7) in 2022.
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