After Donald Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns during his presidential campaign to assure the public that he pays his fair share of taxes and has no relevant financial conflicts of interest, America began to realize that expecting every candidate to follow precedent is not enough.
The New Jersey Senate has just passed a bill that will require every presidential candidate to publicly disclose the five most recent years of their tax returns in order to have their name appear on the ballot. The state Assembly will vote next week, almost certainly passing the measure on to Governor Chris Christie’s desk.
It is unclear whether Republican and wannabe Trump crony Christie will be willing to pass the bill into law.
The 24-11 Senate vote is close to being able to override a veto – if three of the five members who did not vote switched their abstention to an aye, the 2/3 majority would be reached.
If every Democrat in the Assembly and one Republican vote in favor of the bill, that will provide the second 2/3 majority needed to push the law through despite Christie’s allegiance to Trump.
New York among others is considering introducing legislation similar to New Jersey’s proposed law.
There is no national policy for what requirements a candidate must meet for their name to be printed on the ballot. The requirements are decided on a state by state basis and vary across the country.
New Jersey’s law would keep a candidate like Trump’s name off of the presidential ballot provided to voters registered in New Jersey. The voters would still be able to write in the candidate’s name, but winning an election through write-ins is extremely difficult.
Some lawyers question the legality of imposing such a substantive requirement on would-be candidates to appear on the ballot. However, states have been controversially keeping relatively mainstream candidates off of their ballots for decades.
There is a definite possibility that legislation like New Jersey’s bill will set a definitive standard of transparency for candidates. Even if only a few states pass the measure, any candidate who wants a serious chance of winning will have to show their tax returns and own up to the information they contain.
That would be a breath of fresh air after Trump’s closed door regime.