Slay the Dragon Logo

SLAY THE DRAGON follows everyday people, outraged by what they see as an attack on the core democratic principle that every person’s vote should count equally. This election year, we’re joining together with grassroots partners to put an end to gerrymandering. Because this issue impacts each state differently, we’ve created a map to help you navigate how gerrymandering affects your state and community. SLAY THE DRAGON arrives on demand April 3.

 

GET CAUGHT UP

Click on your state in the map above to find out what’s going on and how you can help.

We are partnering with organizations in Michigan, Colorado, Wisconsin to support the creation of non-partisan redistricting commissions to protect votes across the country.

us map

Click on your state in the map above to find out what’s going on and how you can help.

We are partnering with organizations in Michigan, Colorado, Wisconsin to support the creation of non-partisan redistricting commissions to protect votes across the country.

Slay the Dragon Logo

SLAY THE DRAGON follows everyday people, outraged by what they see as an attack on the core democratic principle that every person’s vote should count equally. This election year, we’re joining together with grassroots partners to put an end to gerrymandering. Because this issue impacts each state differently, we’ve created a map to help you navigate how gerrymandering affects your state and community. SLAY THE DRAGON arrives on demand April 3.

 

GET CAUGHT UP

Click on your state in the map above to find out what’s going on and how you can help.

We are partnering with organizations in Michigan, Colorado, Wisconsin to support the creation of non-partisan redistricting commissions to protect votes across the country.

us map

Click on your state in the map above to find out what’s going on and how you can help.

We are partnering with organizations in Michigan, Colorado, Wisconsin to support the creation of non-partisan redistricting commissions to protect votes across the country.

New Jersey

Process

Politician Commissions

New Jersey's state legislative and congressional districts are drawn by two different politician-appointed, bipartisan commissions. Each commission has equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans, with a tie-breaking chair selected by the other commissioners. The Redistricting Commission, responsible for congressional redistricting, has thirteen members, with the four legislative leaders and the chairs of the two major political parties each selecting two, and these twelve members selecting an independent member to serve as chair. The Apportionment Commission, responsible for state legislative redistricting, initially has ten members; the chairs of the two major parties each select five, and in the case that the ten commissioners cannot agree on a plan, the Supreme Court appoints the eleventh member. 

Criteria

In addition to the federal requirements of one person, one vote and the Voting Rights Act, New Jersey’s state constitution (Art. IV § 2) requires that state legislative districts be compact, contiguous, and preserve whole counties. There are no state law requirements for drawing congressional districts.

In January 2020, Governor Murphy signed the Voter Precinct Transparency Act into law, which will require the publication of precinct shapefiles on the state’s Division of Elections website and election results on individual county clerks' websites. He also signed SB 758, ending the practice of prison gerrymandering and reassigning currently incarcerated populations to their last-known place of residence for the purpose of redistricting. 

Public Input

New Jersey’s state constitution (Art. II § 2) requires the congressional redistricting commission to hold at least three public hearings in different parts of the state, and to review all plans submitted by the public, as time and convenience permits. In the last redistricting cycle, the commission held three meetings between September and October 2011.

While New Jersey law does not require similar public hearings for state legislative redistricting, the Apportionment Commission did hold nine meetings between January and March 2011. 

Issues

Proposed Redistricting Delay

On July 30, 2020, the state Assembly voted to pass ACR188, proposing a constitutional amendment to modify the legislative redistricting schedule in the case of Census delay. Under the amendment, if census data is not received by February 15 of a year ending in one (i.e. 2021), then the maps from the previous decade would be used for that year’s legislative elections. This would delay the use of new legislative districts until the year ending in three (i.e. 2023). Some concerns about this proposal include the arbitrarily early trigger date of February 15, the underrepresentation of certain communities under old maps, and the lack of need for a permanent constitutional amendment. Voters will have the final say in the November elections.

Bad Reform

In 2018, a combination of citizen-activists and analysts stopped a proposed constitutional amendment (SCR 43/ACR 205) on the grounds that it would not stop gerrymandering and was intended to entrench the majority party (Democrats). We conducted an analysis of the proposed redistricting legislation, finding that it did not improve fairness and in fact opened the door to partisan and racial gerrymandering.

Census Delays

  • State legislative redistricting plan deadline: one month of the receipt by the governor of the official decennial census; latest August 30, 2021 (Art. IV § 3)
  • Congressional redistricting plan deadline: on or before the third Tuesday of each year ending in 2; January 18, 2022 (Art. II § 2)

The Census Bureau may delay sending population data to states until as late as July 31, 2021. New Jersey is in a unique position, as it has state legislative elections in 2021; the state primaries are currently scheduled for June 8, 2021. In the case of delay, New Jersey would have to significantly alter its election schedule, or it will have to resort to using old legislative maps for the 2021 elections. Voters have the option to pass ACR188 to delay redistricting until 2022. The congressional redistricting schedule is more feasible, although it may also be compressed.

History

In the 2011 cycle, plaintiffs challenged the constitutionality of both the state legislative map and the Apportionment Commission itself in Gonzalez v. N.J. Apportionment Commission. A trial judge rejected these challenges, which were upheld by the state Supreme Court on appeal.

Actions

Defend the existing system, which removes total redistricting power from the Legislature, while supporting further reforms.

  • Advocate for a genuinely fair constitutional amendment that creates an independent redistricting commission. Read the Common Cause Activist Handbook on Redistricting Reform to learn about what reforms have been successful in the past, and what steps to take to enact reform in the future. 

In 2021, participate in the Legislature’s public input process.

  • Obtain New Jersey redistricting data from OpenPrecincts.
  • Start to plan out what defines your community – whether it’s a shared economic interest, school districts, or other social or other cultural, historical, or economic interests – and how that can be represented on a map. This will come in handy once the commissions start collecting feedback.
  • Use software tools such as Dave's Redistricting App and Districtr to draw district maps showing either (a) what a fair map would look like, or (b) where the community you believe should be better represented is located.

Contacts

Princeton Gerrymandering Project Data provided by the Princeton Gerrymandering Project

State Info

Congressional Boundaries: Drawn by partisan commission
State Boundaries: Drawn by partisan commission
Legislative Control: Democratic
Governor's Political Party: Democratic
Last Updated: Oct 13 2020