This past August the United States District Court in New Jersey dismissed a complaint brought by voters and independent interest groups to open state primaries and prevent the state from funding closed primaries. The coalition, formed by Endpartisanship.org, is appealing to the Third Circuit to end state funded primaries for the two major parties. Their complaint alleges that the New Jersey statute impermissibly funds closed primaries to the detriment of unaffiliated candidates and voters generally. Endpartisanship.org is a coalition of various groups that believe the two party system has been unfairly supported by the states and that the taxpayer funds supporting the parties creates an unfair advantage to the detriment of independent candidates. This is their first lawsuit as a coalition and it seems that they may have hit a major roadblock.
The New Jersey statute is similar to many other states’ closed primary systems. The statute limits participation in the primary to voters “newly registered at the first primary at which he is eligible to vote” or those whom for fifty-five days prior to the primary have been, “deemed… a member of that party”. The only political parties recognized in New Jersey for this purpose are the two major parties. The state claims the purpose of this law is in order to prevent “party raiding”, a process by which members of an opposing party attempt to select their favored nominee, and other problems that can occur with a more open primary process.