In response to the release of more detailed data regarding the congressional district map certified by the New Jersey Redistricting Commission, the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice and voting rights advocate Juan Cartagena today expressed concern about the reduction in populations of color in several New Jersey congressional districts.
In the 8th Congressional District, the Hispanic population of voting age was reduced to under 50%, raising serious concerns under the Voting Rights Act and Supreme Court precedent, given that the Latina/o population currently controls the district.
In the 12th Congressional District, the Black population was significantly reduced from the current map.
In the 6th and 12th Congressional Districts, the Asian American population was also reduced, keeping that community “cracked” into several districts, thereby diluting their power.
“We are troubled that the Commission failed to protect the ability of Latina/o voters to elect their candidates of choice in the 8th Congressional District, a protection granted in the current congressional map and in the racial equity map submitted by racial justice advocates,” said Henal Patel, Director of the Democracy & Justice Program at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice. “We will look closely at whether the map selected by the Commission undermines the voting strength of Latina/o voters in violation of the Voting Rights Act.”
“The last Census showed that all of New Jersey’s population growth over the last decade came from people of color. That makes it particularly troubling to see substantial reductions in the population of those communities in several New Jersey districts, including the 8th, 6th and 12th,” said Juan Cartagena, former President and General Counsel at LatinoJustice PRLDEF. “These issues are not simply a matter of math but a matter of power for the people who live in our state. Against the backdrop of the national and growing anti-democracy movement, New Jersey should be a leader in empowering its growing communities of color, not continuing to dilute their power.”
“Advocates have been relentless in calling for transparency during the redistricting process, a call that in many ways went unheeded,” added Patel. “Had the Commission simply released its proposed map for comment prior to certifying it, many of these issues could have been addressed.”