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Join the Party. Not in the Party? You can’t join. Welcome to New Jersey politics.

Hector Oseguera uncovers an open and dirty secret of New Jersey ballot manipulation that raises a serious question about the lack of fairness in voting. Hector is our David who takes aim at Goliath, the New Jersey Political Machine.

Born and raised in Hoboken, Hector is an activist who is deeply connected with his community. He ran and lost in the 2020 Democratic Primary election for the Congressional House seat in the 8th District. He was curious why he lost when he received nearly 30% of his County’s support.

Hector shows voters their ballots and finds voters have no idea they are being manipulated to vote for someone did not intend to. We see voters told to “vote down the line, supporting a County Line, a loosely tied list of candidates listed on the ballot in a primary position. Effectively, voters deem challenger candidates like Hector as “not serious candidates” when their names are placed in random places on the ballot, sometimes pushed to the far corner of the ballot page, and often placed alongside other random candidates running “Off-the-Line” in columns separated by blank spaces.

President of Good Government Coalition of New Jersey Yael Niv explains that a voter makes decisions favoring the County Line of candidates who all appear on the Ballot as they give a false sense of a “a team” when associated in solid alignment. As a voter in New Jersey, she sees the Ballot made to favor County Line candidates is intentionally designed to sway voters for the Weight of the Line.

Public Policy Professor Julia Rubin at Rutgers demonstrates a candidate’s name place on the “County Line” or primary column increases each County Line candidate’s chance of winning the Primary election by a margin of 38 points. Her research shows that  1,151 incumbent candidates since 2009 have lost their races around the country, while only 3 incumbent candidates in 20 years have lost their races in New Jersey—which, speaks to the power of the County Line. Being on the County Line is a slam dunk for winning the primary election.

Hector desires fairness and justice in the election process. Hector has an axe to grind from his loss due to the County Line, and he follows a lawsuit challenging the County Line system, which alleges that the State puts a “thumb on the scale” by placing candidates like Hector in an unfavorable ballot position. Hector hopes the lawsuit will dismantle the nearly 100-year old political machine system that he sees as unjustly favoring the powerfully connected incumbents to maintain the power of the status quo.

He experiences a cloud of hypocrisy, nepotism and dishonesty maligning New Jersey politics. In 2022, Senator Bob Menendez appoints his son Rob Menendez, Jr., to replace Albio Sires, to whom Hector lost in 2020. Bob Menendez is under investigation for fraud and bribery. Now, Governor Murphy supports his wife Tammy Murphy to take Bob Menendez’s seat in the upcoming 2024 election. In this air of corruption, Democratic House of Representative Andy Kim in District 3 announces his run for the Senate to replace Bob Menendez to take on the political machine.

Hector supports the underdog Rep. Kim, a candidate with a 3-term positive track record in political office, yet he garnered no political endorsements from Party Chairs of any county. Instead, the Political Machine of Party Chairs of nearly half of the 21 counties in New Jersey endorse Tammy Murphy, a woman with no political office experience but is married to the Governor. Hector wonders whether the grassroots popularity of Congressman Andy Kim will overcome the Political Machine’s backroom deals and ballot manipulation on Primary Day, June 4th. He meets Andy Kim to support his candidacy.