NJ Moderate Party Requests State Supreme Court Hear Challenge to Anti-Fusion Voting Laws


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Prompt and Definitive Resolution Is Required in Advance of 2024 Election Cycle

Today, the New Jersey Moderate Party and others filed a motion asking the New Jersey Supreme Court to directly hear their challenge to the State’s prohibition of fusion voting (in lieu of a lengthier process in the state Appellate Division). Fusion voting allows a candidate to appear on the ballot as the nominee of more than one party. 

The parties argue in their motion for direct certification that a prompt and definitive resolution is needed in advance of the 2024 election cycle. 

The challenge, brought by the Moderate Party and three moderate voters who are all current or former Republicans, is currently pending before the Appellate Division.

Rick Wolfe, a founder of the NJ Moderate Party and a former Republican Mayor of East Amwell Township, said: “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. 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.”

Wolfe added, “The New Jersey Moderate Party wants to reverse the trend of hyper-polarization and the danger it poses to our country. Our goal is to bring both of the major political parties closer to the center. To achieve this objective, we need to identify, nominate, support and help elect viable moderate candidates who will strive to protect the basic foundations of our democracy and are willing to work collegially and respectfully with people of different viewpoints, to achieve sensible solutions to the major issues facing our country. Current New Jersey law bars us from exercising our constitutional rights to do that. 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.”

The motion for direct certification, as well as principal and amicus briefs can be viewed on Protect Democracy’s website at:  


Additional background about the case

In 2022, the Moderate Party sought to nominate Tom Malinowksi as its candidate for Congress. The NJ Secretary of State denied the nominating petitions under the state’s anti-fusion laws because Malinowski was the nominee of the Democratic Party. In response, the Moderate Party and these voters sued the NJ Secretary of State, asking the court to recognize the unconstitutionality of the Secretary’s decision under New Jersey’s expansive constitutional protections.

Last week, a cross-partisan group of organizations, former members of Congress and academics filed amicus briefs supporting the Moderate Party’s important lawsuit. The breadth of amicus briefs signals the importance of this case, including briefs from pro-democracy groups like the Brennan Center for Justice and the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey; right-of-center groups like the Rainey Center for Public Policy and the Cato Institute, joined by former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman; and a bipartisan group of former members of Congress, including former House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt (D-MO), Bruce Braley (D-IA), Patrick Murphy (D-PA), John Schwarz (R-MI), and David Trott (R-MI).

The case has already drawn in political heavyweights. Former Governor Whitman and former U.S. Senator Robert Torricelli teamed up in an op-ed to support the New Jersey Moderate Party’s effort to re-legalize fusion voting in the Garden State: “Bringing back fusion would strengthen the center of American politics. Otherwise we’re trapped in a badly-designed game that is now driving our country towards a cliff.”