The New Jersey Redistricting Commission draws the congressional maps and consists of 13 members. Members are selected by the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the General Assembly, the minority legislative leaders, and the chairmen of the state committee of the political parties whose candidates for Governor received the largest and second-largest number of votes in the most recent gubernatorial election, each of whom appoint two. These first 12 Commissioners name a thirteenth independent member by majority vote who is the Commission chair. If they are unable to select the thirteenth member, the State Supreme Court selects one from among the two people who received the highest number of Commissioner’s votes. The thirteenth member must have been a resident of the state for the last five years and shall not have held public or party office during that time. The Commissioners cannot be members or employees of the U.S. Congress.
The New Jersey Redistricting Commission certifies the formation of congressional districts to the Secretary of State of New Jersey no later than the third Tuesday of years ending in two, or within three months of receiving from the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives a notification of the number of seats apportioned to New Jersey, whichever is later. To certify the formation of congressional districts, a majority of the Commission must pass a map by majority vote in a public setting. Should they fail to pass a redistricting map in time, the top two plans with over five votes are sent to the State Supreme Court, which selects the plan that best conforms to the requirements of the Constitution and laws of the U.S. This map becomes law.
Challenges to the maps are litigated in the State Supreme Court.
The New Jersey Apportionment Commission draws the legislative maps and is made up of ten members with the possibility of an eleventh. The chairmen of each of the two major political parties, determined by the number of votes in the last gubernatorial election, each select five members. If these original ten members do not pass a plan, the Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court appoints an eleventh member.
The New Jersey Apportionment Commission certifies the formation of New Jersey Senate and Assembly districts to the Secretary of State of New Jersey no later than one month after the census results are given to the Governor, or by February 1 of the year following the census year, whichever is later. If the Commission does not accomplish this task in time, the Supreme Court of New Jersey appoints the eleventh commissioner. Within one month after this appointment, maps approved by majority vote are to be turned into the Secretary of State.
In the event the Governor receives the official census results after February 15 of the year ending in one following the year in which the census was taken, the Commission’s timelines for drafting and enacting legislative redistricting maps are modified. The Commission must begin conducting its business immediately upon the Governor’s receipt of the census results, and the eleventh commissioner must be appointed by the Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court within one month of such receipt as well. The Commission must certify the apportionment and establishment of Senate and General Assembly districts to the Secretary of State after the November general election of the year ending in one, but no later than March 1 of the year ending in two. Maps drawn pursuant to this amended timeline are not used until the Senate and General Assembly elections beginning in the year ending in three. Prior to such election, the state’s legislative elections will use the Senate and General Assembly districts which were approved and certified by the previous Apportionment Commission for the previous decade.
Source: N.J. Const. art. II, § 2; art. IV, §§ 3, 4.
Previous Redistricting Cycles
- Commission’s Original Plans
- Litigation History
- Gonzalez v. State Apportionment Comm’n, 53 A.3d 1230 (N.J. Super. Ct. 2012): Different groups of plaintiffs filed challenges to the Commission’s adopted legislative plans, asserting violations of federal and state constitutional provisions relating to equal population, compactness, partisan considerations, and the structure and transparency of the Commission’s operations. On September 10, 2012, the N.J. Superior Court affirmed the trial court’s dismissal of the action, finding that the plaintiffs either failed to state a claim or failed to adequately support the alleged violations.
- Commission’s Original Plans
- Litigation History
- Page v. Bartels, 144 F.Supp.2d 346 (D.N.J. 2001): Plaintiffs filed a federal lawsuit challenging the Commission’s adopted legislative plans on the grounds it harmed African-American and Hispanic voting strength in violation of the 14th Amendment’s Due Process and Equal Protection guarantees, the 15th Amendment, and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. On May 7, 2001, the district court upheld the plans, finding that they did not violate either the federal or state constitutions, nor the Voting Rights Act.
- Robertson v. Bartels, 150 F.Supp.2d 691 (D.N.J. 2001): Plaintiffs filed a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Commission’s adopted legislative plans in addition to the state’s one-year district residency requirement as a requisite for running for legislative office. After the district court rejected their challenged to the plans’ constitutionality in an earlier opinion, the district court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs as to their residency requirement challenge, finding that it violated the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause and invalidated the requirement.
- Aff’d, 534 U.S. 1110 (2002)
- McNeil v. Legislative Apportionment Comm’n, 828 A.2d 840 (N.J. 2003): None of New Jersey’s redistricting plans adopted since the 1964 adoption of the one person, one vote constitutional standard had complied with the state constitution’s political boundary requirement for the State’s two largest cities. Plaintiffs brought a lawsuit challenging the Commission’s adopted legislative plans as unconstitutional based upon its non-compliance with the state constitutional political boundary requirement, and on July 31, 2003, the state Supreme Court ruled that the political boundary requirement was invalid under the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause and upheld the plans.
Ballot Measure Process
Kinds of Ballot Measures
Only the New Jersey Legislature may refer amendments to the ballot. There is no initiative or referendum process.
Source: N.J. Const. art. IX.
In The News
- Democrats Add Poritz to List of Congressional Redistricting Tiebreakers, New Jersey Globe (7/26/21)
- New Jersey Chief Justice Seeks Consensus Candidate for Redistricting Panel, The Well News (7/24/21)
- N.J. Supreme Court will Pick Tiebreaker on Congressional Redistricting, New Jersey Globe (7/15/21)
- Rabner Gives Legislative Redistricting Commission One Month to Submit Possible Tiebreaker Candidates, New Jersey Globe (7/9/21)
- Democrats Name their Six Congressional Redistricting Commission Members, New Jersey Globe (6/15/21)
- Republicans Name their Six Congressional Redistricting Commission Members, New Jersey Globe (5/28/21)
- Legislative Redistricting Delay Certain after Census Announces Further Data Hold Ups, New Jersey Globe (1/5/21)
- 'There's not a Chance': New Jersey Redistricting Possible but Unlikely in 2021, WHYY (12/20/20)
- Lavery will Seek GOP State Chairmanship, New Jersey Globe (12/10/20)
- Why New Boundaries for NJ's Legislative Districts are Unlikely Anytime Soon, NJ Spotlight (11/30/20)
- NJ Democrats' Diversity Demands Clash with Party Bosses' Plans for Legislature, NorthJersey.com (11/23/20)
- Democratic Mapmakers Block Vote Pledge to Prevent Redistricting Deal with GOP, New Jersey Globe (11/17/20)
- Currie Will Name Jones as Democratic Redistricting Chairman, with Avelenda as Executive Director, New Jersey Globe (11/15/20)
- Sumter Calls Dems' Proposed Legislative Commission a Failure, Insider NJ (11/14/20)
- 60% of Voters Favor Redistricting Delay if Census is Late, Results Show, North Jersey (11/3/20)
- Redistricting Question on NJ Ballot Opposed by Good Government Groups, WNYC (10/7/20)
- Census Takers Begin Visiting Homes Statewide, Planet Princeton (8/25/20)
- N.J. Voters Will Decide Whether to Delay Redrawing how Power is Allocated in the State Legislature, NJ.com (7/31/20)
- Concern that NJ Redistricting Proposal Could Disproportionately Affect Minority Representation, NJ Spotlight (7/21/20)
- N.J. Lawmakers Mull Postponing Redistricting Due to Expected Census Delays, Whyy (7/21/20)
- Committee Hears Testimony on Legislative Redistricting Resolution, Insider NJ (7/20/20)
- Gopal Will Back Constitutional Amendment on Redistricting, New Jersey Globe (7/20/20)
- Democrats Move Plan to Delay Redistricting of State Legislative Seats, NJ Spotlight (7/15/20)
- Massive Opposition to Democrats' Rushed Redistricting Scheme, Insider NJ (7/14/20)
- Possible Unintended Consequences in Redistricting Constitutional Amendment, New Jersey Globe (7/14/20)
- Citing Census Delay, New Jersey Looks ti Push Legislative Redistricting to 2023, Roll Call (7/10/20)
- Measure to delay New Jersey's post-Census redistricting faces stiff opposition, The Center Square (7/9/20)
- Kean: Senate Republicans United Against Democrats' New Effort to Hijack Legislative Redistricting & Disenfranchise Voters, Insider NJ (7/8/20)
- New Jersey Democrats' Proposal to Put Off Redistricting Draws Criticism from Republicans, The Center Square (7/7/20)
- Rice urges Currie to add more women to redistricting commission, New Jersey Globe (5/28/20)
- Gopal wants women, people of color, on legislative redistricting panel, New Jersey Globe (5/19/20)
- Barlas to lead GOP legislative redistricting; names emerge for Democratic seats, New Jersey Globe (4/2/20)
- More states to use redistricting reforms after 2020 census, AP (3/5/20)
- N.J. changes how inmates are counted in census as Murphy ends ‘prison gerrymandering’, NJ.com (1/22/20)