The Assembly Judiciary Committee today cleared a plan that could postpone legislative redistricting by two years, to 2023, pending the approval of a constitutional amendment.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
ACR-188, sponsored by Assembly members John McKeon (D-27), Angelica Jimenez (D-32), Benjie Wimberly (D-35), Yvonne Lopez (D-19), Britnee Timberlake, and Tom Giblin (both D-34) would seek voter approval of a constitutional amendment to reschedule legislative redistricting to 2023 if the U.S. Census data is not available within the same time frame as it is customarily received every decade.
This would keep the current legislative district maps in place for an additional two-year term until the 2023 elections.
“This pandemic is creating an unforeseeable impact on the timeframe needed to get a complete and accurate census count. While we hope the federal government will be able to get it done, we recognize the critical importance of having an alternative course of action should delays come to pass,” McKeon said in a statement.
The U.S. Census Bureau has asked to delay delivery of the data until the end of July, 2021. New Jersey is one of two states that hold legislative elections in 2021 and typically receive certified census results by February.
As the law currently stands, New Jersey must adopt new legislative maps within 60 days of receiving the census data.
“This amendment would protect against the very real possibility that we would not be able to meet our constitutional responsibility to adopt a new legislative map in time,” added Jimenez.
However, the proposed amendment would allow the commission to delay the creation of the new districts if Gov. Phil Murphy (D) receives the federal census data after February 15, 2021.
Additionally, he commission could then adopt the new districts after the November general election, but not later than March 1, 2022.
As a constitutional amendment, the measure must be passed by the state legislature no later than August 3rd of this year, with three-fifths of the members of each house voting in favor before it goes to the voters in November of 2020.
This could be a heavy lift, since the legislature would need 24 votes in the senate (25 Democrats) and 48 in the assembly (52 Democrats).
The bill now goes the Speaker for further consideration.