A proposal to amend the New Jersey constitution, Concurrent Council Resolution (ACR) 188, is under consideration by the state legislature. At the Princeton Gerrymandering Project, we are find that its probable effects are opposed to those of its proponents. It has the potential to delay representation of Latinos and Asians by 2021. Over the following decades, it will give the power of New Jersey to future presidents, whether Democrats or Republicans. .
Since the 2010 census, the Latino and Asian population in New Jersey has increased by 410,000 (see map and declare). Based on how they are distributed, we estimate that three new counties may be drawn to give either group or the coalition that unites them and black voters the chance to elect the legislators of their choice *.
Usually, this will happen in 2021. But if ACR188 becomes law, those changes may not be made until three years after the Census, in 2023.
According to the US Community Survey (a product of the Census Bureau), the growth of Asians and Latinos is almost twice as large as the total statewide population growth of 223,000. Most Asian / Latino growth, around 300,000 people, occurred in a cluster of seven northern counties (Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Middlesex, Passaic, Somerset and Union). The growth of Asians and Latinos is part of a broader story about population movement from south to north New Jersey.
ACR188 states that if Census data are distributed after 15 February, redistribution according to law will be delayed. The danger of delay is real: at this point it is known that the Censuses will be delayed for months. Supporters of ACR188 have expressed concerns about a possible low amount. However, a delay that actually leaves any developing community out of count (ie since they are not reflected in the new district levels, they may not have been counted yet). In general, underrepresentation from bad distortions has greater effects than even the worst deprivation. Even if a correction did take place, there is no way to restore those three precinct by 2021.
It’s certainly true that one low quantity may cause damage to citizens of New Jersey, but such damage is outside the scope of redistribution. For example, federal housing assistance is provided on a per capita basis. ACR188 doesn’t solve that problem.
The issues of the revision continue until 2021. The deadline of February 15 is quite early; The federal government missed this date as recently as 2001. A future President could control the timing of New Jersey redistricting by withholding Census data until Feb. 16. Such delay is within the jurisdiction of the President, as the statutory deadline for submitting data is April 1. ACR188 assigns some control over future redistricting timing to anyone who is the President at that time.
Unfortunately we are in the late stage of the process, there is no time to revise ACR188. One simple approach is to let it fail. Without it, the redistricting committee could receive data by July 1, 2021 and still attract counties to promptly hold the primary and general elections that same year (see timings assumptions here). And releasing the data before April 1, 2021 allows for the possibility of an almost normal timeline.
The amendment is also a missed opportunity to enact real redistricting reforms New Jersey regional redistribution and legal experts advocatedsuch as many commissioners who are more independent and truly independent from the legislature. However, there is little good news: if ACR188 passes, there will be more time for these reforms to be considered.
*Specifically, District 36 had the proportion of Hispanics increased from 37 to 40% and District 18 had the proportion of Asians increasing from 28 to 31%. District 18 has a combined Asian and Latino population, growing from 37 to 40%. All of these increases may indicate new constituencies, in these or nearby locations.