The 2020 General Election ballot includes State Public Question #3 which asks:
“Do you approve amending the Constitution to change when new legislative districts are created if the federal census data is delayed?”
This constitutional amendment would change when new legislative districts are created if the federal census data is delayed. If approved, the redistricting schedule would be delayed. Legislators would be elected for a two-year term beginning in 2021 from existing districts that were created after the 2010 redistricting process. The new districts will be used starting with the next scheduled general election for the State legislature in 2023.
The United States Constitution requires that a census be taken every ten years to count the people living in the country. Census data is then used to create new legislative districts to ensure residents have equal representation from elected officials. The State Constitution requires an Apportionment Commission to create new legislative districts every ten years after the federal census is completed.
Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 census data collection, analysis and reporting have been delayed. The process was scheduled to begin in the spring with data collection but that is currently underway this fall with a deadline for the end of October to complete the count and conduct the geographic analysis by the U.S. Census Bureau to deliver new population and demographic information to the state.
If New Jersey does not receive data from the U.S. Census Bureau by February 1, 2021, new legislative districts may not be ready in time for State legislative elections in 2021. After the decennial redistricting process, Legislative elections commence with political parties awarding of the county line to preferred candidates – generally in late February or March, the petition deadline is 64 days prior to the June primary and then the certification of candidates shortly thereafter, and then the primary election is held the first Tuesday after the first Monday in June.
If approved, the commission will adopt the new districts after the November general election, but no later than March 1, 2022. The new districts will be used starting with legislative elections in 2023 and will continue to be used until new districts are again created by the Apportionment Commission after the next federal census.
Contact: Paul Penna, Legislative Analyst, email@example.com, 609-695-3481 ext. 110