Independent Voter Project

New Jersey Voters Spend Over $100 Million For Elections They Can’t Participate In

Public funding of political party activities is certainly not a new concept in the United States. In fact, the idea was floated as early as 1907 by President Theodore Roosevelt. However, electoral systems have evolved dramatically

This article was originally published on IVN.us on February 20, 2014.

Public funding of political party activities is certainly not a new concept in the United States. In fact, the idea was floated as early as 1907 by President Theodore Roosevelt. However, electoral systems have evolved dramatically since President Roosevelt’s time.

That evolution has created many concerns and questions which must be addressed. For example, why are voters subsidizing private political organizations though their taxes? Why is subscription to ideology-driven partisanship a prerequisite to exercising one’s constitutional right to suffrage? And, how did those rights devolve to the point wherein over half of registered voters no longer have a voice?

New Jersey is just one of many states with a closed primary system, which means voters have to be registered with one of the major parties to participate in primary elections to select party candidates. Because political parties are private organizations and these elections are meant to select the candidates of political parties, primaries should be considered private activities funded with public dollars.

Financing political party activities is expensive, regardless of where the money comes from. However, using public funds to do so requires promotion of a fully accessible process for all those whose taxes are being utilized — a fact that has been overlooked by states like New Jersey for decades.

New Jersey’s odd-year gubernatorial races increase primary frequency. Combined with national partisan primaries and convention delegate nominations, the state’s taxpayers have spent a total of $192.6 million in the span of 13 years on these activities alone.

New Jersey is now requesting even more from it’s electorate: ten dollars from each registered voter with which to fund private political activities, increasing the cost by an additional $49.6 million.

The tables below provides public spending data for state primaries since 2000:

New Jersey Partisan Activities (2000-2013)

  Matched Funds NJ Voters Ind* Percent
2001  $11.10 M 4.59 M 2.59 M 56%
2005 $6.48 M 4.82 M 2.81 M 58%
2009 $5.80 M 4.95 M 2.24 M 45%
2013 $12.00 M 5.48 M 2.59 M 47%
Avg $8.849 M 4.96 M 2.56 M 52%

*Voters not affiliated with a party.

National Primary (2000-2013)

  Matched Funds
2000 3.24 M
2004 3.78 M
2008 4.46 M
2013 4.95 M
Avg 4.10 M

Sub Total: $16,414,904.00
Total Matched Funds: $51,813,559.46

Polling Costs/Primary Based on Salaries and Ballot Printing (2000-2013)

Salaries $5.23 M
Ballot Printing $6.5 M
Total Primary Cost $11.73 M
Primaries Held 12

Grand Total (Gubernatorial Primaries, National Primaries and Polling Costs): $192,616,759.46
Cost/Registered Voter: $38.84
Unaffiliated Voters Contribution: $100,160,714.92.

Interested in learning more? Read the entire article on IVN.us.

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