New Jersey
Congressional BoundariesDrawn by politician commission
State BoundariesDrawn by politician commission
Governor's PartyDemocratic
Legislative PartyDemocratic

Census-related Redistricting Timeline Delays

State Legislative

Alert:
Low

Congressional

Alert:
Low

Related content

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. 

2011 Cycle

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.

Issues

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.

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

Fair Districts New Jersey

New Jersey Institute for Social Justice

Sources

All About Redistricting

NCSL

Ballotpedia