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New Jersey redistricting legislation still allows Democratic and Republican gerrymanders

December 5th, 2018, 3:10pm by Sam Wang



As I wrote earlier this week, there’s been a lot of fuss – and some misinformation – concerning a proposed redistricting reform here in New Jersey. The Princeton Gerrymandering Project has now analyzed the legislation, constitutional amendment S.C.R. 43/A.C.R. 205.

Will Adler, Ben Williams, and I find that the legislation still allows either party, Republican or Democrat, to commit a gerrymander. We show exactly how that would be done, and we list districts that would be affected by a partisan redrawing of the state legislative map.

We also describe amendments that would close these loopholes and create genuine reform. This morning, we sent our findings to two local legislators, Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker (D) and State Senator Kip Bateman (R). Our analysis and recommendations are here as a PDF.

At the top of this post is a Republican gerrymander that is allowed under the legislation. Here is a Democratic gerrymander, also in compliance:


In these charts, each dot is one Senate district, color-coded by party (black indicates open seats freed up by throwing pairs of Democrats into the same district). The location of the dot is the natural partisan tendency of the district, as defined by statewide elections. The arrows include the advantage that individual incumbents bring to the table on top of that natural partisanship.

How can this be? It has to do with a weird definition of competitiveness, and limits on partisanship that don’t entirely make sense given New Jersey’s demographics. For details, see our memo.

Tags: Redistricting

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