Seth Wenig/AP

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A federal court judge has granted an initial ruling on Friday that demands a revision of New Jersey’s contentious ballot format, referred to as the county line ballot, a decision that could potentially revolutionize elections in a state historically plagued by accusations of political malpractice.

The court order stands as a triumph for Congressman Andy Kim, who initiated a lawsuit against the state’s counties to terminate the utilization of this format. Nonetheless, the impact of Friday’s verdict, once deemed crucial for Kim’s endeavor to supplant the twice-charged Sen. Bob Menendez, may now hold diminished relevance in light of Tammy Murphy’s abrupt withdrawal. Murphy, the spouse of Governor Phil Murphy and Kim’s rival in the upcoming June Democratic primary, conceded last week. Despite her absence of prior governmental roles and her prior affiliation with the Republican Party until 2014, Murphy had garnered support from the state’s political establishment, rendering her seemingly invincible.

Nevertheless, if the ruling withstands a foreseeable challenge put forth by county clerks, its potential ramifications on forthcoming elections could be substantial. As elucidated by my colleague Nina Wang:

Dominant party endorsements grant a disproportionate advantage during New Jersey’s primaries. Nineteen out of the state’s 21 counties employ a highly convoluted ballot structure that tilts the balance in favor of the preferred candidates of local powerful figures. Through the ballot arrangement, party leaders can place their favorites on the county linea roster of candidates endorsed for all positions currently contested, ranging from county clerk to the presidency. Challengers not in the good graces of these leaders are often relegated to the sidelines, where they are likely to be disregarded by voters.

“The judgment rendered today is a triumph for a more equitable and democratic political landscape in New Jersey,” Kim remarked in an official statement. “It signifies a victory resulting from the remarkable grassroots endeavors of activists throughout our state who recognized an undemocratic system that marginalized the voices of voters and toiled diligently to rectify it.”