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Will New Jersey Hispanics and Asians have to wait until 2023 for fair representation?

July 9th, 2020, 6:42pm by Sam Wang

Since the 2010 census, Hispanic and Asian populations in New Jersey have increased by 410,000, almost as many people as live in 2 legislative districts (see map at left and our statement). But if Jersey legislators get their way, those communities may have to wait two years until 2023 to see their numbers reflected in redistricting.

Today in Trenton, an Assembly committee reviewed ACR188, an amendment to the state constitution which would allow redistricting to be postponed until after the 2021 election. The reason has to do with likely Census delays, which in turn delays the work of the redistricting commission. But as written, the amendment takes steps that give away power for decades to come. Furthermore, proponents claim that it address a possible undercount – but its actual effect will be to cause immediate underrepresentation to key ethnic groups, to an extent much larger than any possible Census error.

As the Princeton Gerrymandering Project’s Aaron Barden testified today before the committee, the redistricting commission could receive data as late as July 1 and still draw districts in time to hold a primary and general election in 2021. PGP’s hypothetical timetables are available here. But ACR188 has a trigger provision saying that if data are delivered any time after February 15, then it’s OK to delay redistricting.

That’s an unusually strict deadline, considering that Census data can easily be delayed until March, as was the case in 2001. This matters because the constitutional amendment will apply not just for 2021, but all future redistricting cycles. The amendment was also a missed opportunity to enact true redistricting reforms that New Jersey academics have advocated, such as more independent commissioners and true independence from the legislature.

The amendment will also come up for a public hearing next week, and can be amended further until July 14th. For more details, see this NJ Globe story.

Tags: 2020 Election · Redistricting

One Comment so far ↓

  • Pechmerle

    Off topic:
    Today the Supreme Court overturned the injunction prohibiting Florida from requiring ex-felons to pay all fines, fees and court charges before they can exercise their Florida-constitutional-amendment restored right to vote. Commentary on this atrocious vote-suppressing decision points out that Florida has such sloppy record keeping that it can’t even tell most ex-felons how much they owe.
    So all that effort to register about 1 million ex-felons in Florida to vote this year is for naught.

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