top of page
  • Writer's pictureJoseph Giralo

Perspective/ Atlantic County Clerk

courtesy photo

This month I want to discuss happenings with the lawsuit which was filed against 19 of the 21 county clerks in New Jersey. It has been a busy time as this is now crunch time for the primary election. A lawsuit filed in Federal Court by Congressman Andy Kim has consumed the time of many since its filing in mid-February. Let me make it clear that as the county clerk I will continue to work within the statues of New Jersey or the ruling of the court. Congressman Andy Kim in his lawsuit said that the county line in the primary election is unconstitutional. For those who do not understand this when a candidate of the Democrat or Republican Party gains the endorsement or support of the county organization they are awarded the county line and get to run with the others that are endorsed or supported by the county party. This is often the very first column or row in the voting machine or on the paper VBM. Other candidates who are challenging the party endorsed candidates are placed in other rows/columns. This is accomplished by a public drawling. Kim seeks to change the ballot design of which you the voter will see in the actual machine and on the paper VBM. The Kim lawsuit seeks to do away with the county line and have candidates run on the ballot in a block (with those all running for the same office) with the order chosen by a random drawling. He wants this because he contends that the county line gives an unfair advantage to those endorsed by the county party. He has stated that the county line has an unfair advantage of winning the primary and also has an unfair fundraising advantage.

The county clerks have their backs up against the wall because the eleventh hour is now upon us with the construction of the ballot as well as VBM’s and sample ballots. Changing from what has been done for 80 plus years can always be changed. The problem is timing.

The changing of templates, programming of machines, the re-programming of scanners for the VBM’s as well as the size of the ballot and the landscape needed to create the ballot are all unknown. The testing of the new ballot design on the new ES&S machines will take time, as most if not all of the programming is proprietary and with over 60 percent of the counties having one brand of machines is there enough time to make all of this work? County clerks pride themselves on not making mistakes on ballot layout, offices sought, as well of all the proofing of sample ballots and VBM’s. If changes are deemed to have to take place by the court we as citizens could see a very different ballot for the upcoming primary election.

As of the writing of this letter no decision has come down as to the county line lawsuit, but it should be noted that the New Jersey legislature has released a statement that is willing to look into the county line as well as ballot design. All of this needs to be done with the timing of when elections take place and exactly what resources are needed to implement changes going forward. I will keep everyone updated as this issue moves forward either thru the courts or the Legislature. No matter what happens always remember it’s important to Vote. Lastly if you have any questions please feel free to call the clerks office at (609) 625-4011.

Joseph J. Giralo

Atlantic County Clerk

Mays Landing, N.J.


bottom of page