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New York adopted more strict ballot access rules ahead of the 2020 election, making it harder for minor political parties to qualify.

Strict N.Y. ballot access rules upheld, imperiling minor parties

One minor political party is fighting to remain on the ballot in New York, but its efforts — and those of other alternatives to the Democratic and Republican parties — were dealt a severe blow this week.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday upheld a lower court's ruling, rejecting a challenge to New York's new ballot qualification rules. The Serve American Movement (also known as the SAM Party) claimed the rule change, which increased the number of votes political parties need in order to qualify for the ballot, violated its members' First and Fourteenth amendment rights.

Democracy reform advocates argue limiting ballot access for third parties only perpetuates polarization and the two-party duopoly in America. The share of voters who don't identify with either major party has trended upward over the past two decades and is expected to continue to grow.

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New Jersey Policy Perspective report

The Monmouth County primary ballot demonstrates the preferred placement of certain candidates.

Outsiders sue to take ballot design power away from N.J. party bosses

A unique power that New Jersey gives local partisan officials, to design primary ballots giving preferential treatment to favored candidates, is being challenged in a lawsuit as an unconstitutional form of political discrimination.

The federal claim, filed Monday by six defeated politicians and a consortium of progressive groups, offers an unusual twist on one of the prevailing complaints from the good-government movement: The people who run the two major parties have way too much power to repel the sort of outsider or insurgent candidates who would be more committed to fixing the system.

This may be nowhere more true than in New Jersey, where the Democratic and Republican party bosses in the 21 counties have an exceptional ability to steer election outcomes.

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