Legislation Introduced To Stop Phantom Candidates, Strengthen Campaign Finance Laws

Senate Republican Leader Anthony Bucco (R-25) and Senator Vince Polistina (R-02) introduced legislation that would stop illegitimate ‘phantom candidates’ from disrupting New Jersey elections and strengthen campaign finance reporting to improve election transparency for all New Jerseyans.

“The people of New Jersey deserve transparent and honest elections.  Unfortunately, what we saw during the 2023 campaign season was a disgrace to our constituents,” said Sen. Bucco. “Attempts to deceive, mislead, or outright trick voters to win an election is something I will not stand for. This legislation will combat bad-faith actors from interfering with our elections and depriving hard working New Jerseyans a voice in our democracy.”

“Free and fair elections are the cornerstone of our democracy, and this bill will further safeguard their legitimacy,” said Sen. Polistina. “New Jerseyans should feel confident casting their ballot and we must ensure that the type of election interference we saw in 2023 never happens again.”

The bill requires anyone who gathers voter signatures on a petition to nominate a candidate for election, and the candidates named on the petition themselves, to take an oath that they are real “bona fide” candidates.  A violation of the oath would constitute a third-degree crime.

The intent of this bill is to prevent ‘phantom candidates’ from entering a race in order to syphon votes away from another candidate with the intent to foil that candidate’s chances at winning the election.

This bill also re-instates the requirement for independent expenditure committees, the so-called “dark money” groups, to promptly report campaign contributions and expenditures in the 15 days before an election.

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