Morristown, NJ

Political Redistricting of New Jersey, Effective 2022

Morristown Minute

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Morristown Minute

New Jersey Redistricting Commission has drawn new political districts based on the 2020 census to go into effect beginning this year, 2022.

Redistricting, a process by which new congressional and state legislative district boundaries are drawn, has taken place in New Jersey, based on the 2020 census.

New Jersey’s 12 US representatives and 120 state legislators are elected from political districts which are redrawn every ten years based on US census results. Districts are required to have nearly equal populations and not discriminate based on race or ethnicity.

New Jersey will once more have 12 seats in the US House of Representatives as a result of the 2020 census – the same result from the 2010 census.

The new district maps were redrawn on December 22, 2021, to take effect beginning 2022. Districts were redrawn by a commission of 13 members comprising of 6 republicans, 6 democrats, and 1 bipartisan non-political member.

Districts are required to be contiguous, as compact as possible, and to keep municipalities intact except where the law dictates otherwise.

Here are the results of redistricting taking effect this year:

Comparably, below are the results of the 2010 census redistricting:

The new district map was approved by the commission 7 to 6. The Republican Commissioner said in a statement, "We cannot convey enough how disappointed we are in the final product of this process. This decade’s redistricting of New Jersey Congressional boundaries was hijacked by a liberal operative [redistricting advisor Professor Sam Wang of the Princeton Gerrymandering Project] hiding under the cloak of bipartisanship. The resultant map was rigged for Democrat success."

During a commission meeting bipartisan, nonpolitical chairman John Wallace said, "In summary, both delegations aptly applied our standards to their map. In the end, I decided to vote for the Democratic map simply because in the last redistricting map, it was drawn by the Republicans. Thus, I conclude that fairness dictates that the Democrats have the opportunity to have their map used for the next redistricting cycle."

The NJ Globe wrote that the new district map “set[s] up a tough race for Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Ringoes) in New Jersey’s 7th district but puts Democratic Reps. Andy Kim (D-Moorestown), Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff), and Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair) in good shape to win re-election.”

The Supreme Court unanimously stated that excessive partisanship in the redistricting process is unconstitutional, but the Court also stated that federal courts cannot hear claims of “undue partisanship” due to the inability of the court to determine what degree of partisanship is too much.

However, a number of state laws restrict partisan redistricting. Currently, 19 and 17 states limit partisan redistricting for legislative and congressional districts, respectively. These laws prohibit “unduly” favoring or disfavoring a political party when redrawing district lines. New Jersey’s redistricting laws, however, may leave room for partisan redistricting.

An August 2020 report by the New Jersey Policy Perspective found that “being on the county line appears to provide candidates with an advantage.” The advantage was calculated by examining ten primary contests from different New Jersey counties and found that “the average vote margin between appearing on the county line and having your opponent on the county line was 35 percentage points.”

The report also found that “incumbents appear to receive a smaller advantage from the county line than non-incumbents.” Additionally, the report found that “county line ballots appeared to contribute to voter confusion, resulting in substantial overvotes and undervotes.” This means that many voters (20% in the examined election) did not cast a vote for the US Senate, and a larger percentage (32% of voters in the examined election) cast votes for too many candidates for the house of representatives.

In summary, redistricting does have an impact on our state’s election results and can be used for partisan benefit. The process also creates confusion among voters and leads to incorrect (over voting or ‘under voting’) voter balloting.

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