Ensuring Contested Elections - Leinsdorf Runs for Princeton Borough Council
The two party system has gone out of business in many locations. Increasingly, voters enter the booth with only one candidate on the ballot for many offices: including the United States Senate and the House of Representatives.
In Princeton, New Jersey; home of the famous university, the Republican Party has not run candidates for local office for the past three years. In the absence of any Republican opposition, the local Democratic Assemblyman decided it would be nice to be Mayor of Princeton as well as Assemblyman (in New Jersey, multiple office holding is not only legal, but a sign of prestige.) The Mayor of Newark, also serves as the city's United States Representative.
Without a Republican candidate on the ballot, the only way to vote against multiple office holding in Princeton was to declare as a Democrat and vote in the contested primary. Joshua Leinsdorf held his nose and voted in the primary for the inadequate candidate for Mayor, but the inadequate candidate who would only hold the Mayor's office, not the Mayor's office plus another elected office.
So, when it looked as if the Republicans were again not going to offer the voters any local candidates, Joshua Leinsdorf, a school board member who is actually a non-partisan independent, asked Republicans to write-in his name at the primary. As a result, Joshua Leinsdorf's name will be listed on the ballot in the November election on the Republican line, even though he is a registered Democrat. [Note: Under New Jersey's highly partisan election laws, once a voter declares a party affiliation they can only return to unaffiliated status by allowing their voter registration to lapse. Leinsdorf would have happily allowed his registration to lapse for a day, in order to regain unaffiliated status, but that discontinuity in his registration status would have made him ineligible to continue serving on the school board.]
Leinsdorf's great discovery is that, in New Jersey at least, but probably in most other states as well, the ballot itself is a non-partisan document. Josh could run as a registered Democrat on the Republican Party line because accepting the nomination only entailed swearing that he was eligible to hold the office. It is the party primary process, the need to declare that one is "eligible to vote in the election." that screens independents out of the party nomination process. As a write-in, anyone can get the nomination of any party, or can run directly in the November election.
Electronic Voting Machines Make Write-in Voting a Viable Option
The reason Josh was able to steal the Republican line in Princeton is because write-in voting, which was impossibly difficult with the old, mechanical, lever machines; is incredibly easy with the new electronic machines.
The electronic voting machines come with a keyboard. All that is necessary to cast a write-in vote is to press the "Personal Choice" button which is next to the candidates' names, type in the name of the choice, and then press the "Enter" button. It's that simple. And best of all, with electronic voting machines, the write-in votes actually get counted.
So, now Josh is on the ballot in November. The Republican leadership, of course, is not supporting him. Why? Because they would rather let the Democrats win unopposed than support an independent on the Republican Line. Party leaders see political power as a personal possession, not a public trust. That's why both parties condone the uncontested races. They think elections is about winning the office, not about giving voters a chance to influence the direction of government policy.
Taxation is confiscation unless the purposes to which it is put is approved by the voters. With uncontested races, voters have no chance to pass judgment on the priorities and activities of the government. That is why government is increasingly becoming a vehicle for taking from the poor and middle-class and transferring wealth to the rich.
Anyone who faces the prospect of an uncontested race where the voters use electronic voting machines.
Campaign contributions gratefully accepted. Send to 35 Forester Drive, Princeton, New Jersey 08540-5328.
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Contact: Joshua Leinsdorf