BlueWaveNJ Opposition To Redistricting Amendment

Dear Chair and Members of the Committee,
This redistricting amendment to the New Jersey Constitution does not represent a better plan to
draw our legislative districts. Instead, if adopted, the plan would leave New Jersey vulnerable to
abuse and gerrymandering. If our state’s citizens are going to have confidence in our
democratic systems, we must ensure that these systems are fair, transparent, representative
and non-partisan.

The amendment gives disproportionate power to sitting legislators and incumbent parties to
redraw boundaries in their own interests. District boundaries will effectively be sealed by the
choice of members to sit on the Committee, rather than by the Committee’s subsequent
decisions made in the sunlight of principles of fairness.

The amendment makes it easier for legislators to act for their own self-preservation, rather than
in the interests of the electorate. Our current legislators may well be invulnerable to the call of
these incentives; but any sensible law must be robust to withstand less scrupulous individuals.
Horse trading across many dimensions will be the order of the day if the amendment passes:
bargains between individual members or coalitions within each of the two majority parties;
bargains that cross party lines; and bargains involving legislators and the party organizations. It
will not be possible for individual legislators dedicated to fairness to withstand the pressure to
horse trade along with their colleagues, and so the only people without a voice at these auctions
of power will be the New Jersey electorate.

In short, we predict that the amendment is a recipe for partisan gerrymandering as plain and as
dangerous as any we know. For years to come it would handicap challengers both of individual
sitting legislators and of their parties. This is not the stuff of vital democratic institutions, will be
perceived as unfair and rigged, and will diminish New Jerseyans’ sense of ownership of their
government, and, ultimately, their already-low participation in state elections. Bad incentives
that result in such outcomes sometimes are present as unintended consequences of legislation;
it would be a travesty to institute them with eyes open, as passing this amendment would.

This amendment is meant to produce a more fair and balanced district map for our state. The
unfortunate fact is that it will do the exact opposite. It will divide communities, fuel partisanship,
and take power away from the people. Redistricting of this kind is unacceptable no matter
what party it comes from and New Jersey deserves better.
In order to produce fair and balanced redistricting we must increase input from the public and
decrease input from party insiders and politicians. We must pay special attention to interests
that might not otherwise be heard, but need a voice: by not including a separate "racial fairness"
provision, the plan marginalizes minority voters. An independent and bipartisan citizen led
commission is necessary to ensure that all voices are heard and the process is fair.

Our State government must be a fair representation of all of New Jersey citizens. Communities
must be kept together and represented by officials elected by whole communities. This is what
democracy must look like.

We ask that you oppose this redistricting bill.

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