Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce (R- 26) is proposing two amendments to the state Constitution: one that will change the way the state’s electoral votes are apportioned in presidential elections and one that will change the way voters elect representatives to the New Jersey General Assembly.
The first proposal will give one electoral vote to each presidential and vice-presidential candidates for each congressional district the candidates win. Two additional votes will be granted to the team that wins the majority of the state’s congressional districts.
Currently, New Jersey is a winner-take-all state when it comes to presidential elections. DeCroce says the current system disenfranchises millions of voters whose votes are not recognized if their candidate does not win the entire state. She points out that 1.6 million people voted for Donald Trump in 2016 and 1.9 million people voted for Trump in 2020. Under DeCroce’s system Trump would have received five electoral votes in 2016 and three in 2020.
“At a time when the nation is debating voting rights and broadening voter participation, proportional voting should be welcomed by Democrats as well as Republicans because it will make everyone’s vote meaningful,” said DeCroce.
“In the past two presidential elections in New Jersey the votes of 2.5 million people were simply unrecognized. That needs to be corrected if we want to increase voter participation and conduct fairer elections,” added DeCroce.
The Assemblywoman added that changing to proportional voting would give national candidates a greater reason to come to New Jersey and recognize the state’s issues.
“Republicans know there is little to be gained by campaigning in New Jersey and Democrats take the state for granted and spend little time here except to raise money. If there were electoral votes at stake here, then we would see New Jersey getting the national attention it deserves,” added DeCroce.
Currently two states — Maine and Nebraska – employ a congressional district system for apportioning electoral votes. The Assemblywoman said more states should consider the change.
DeCroce’s second proposal would require voters to elect one Assembly candidate from each half of the legislative district instead of two legislators elected at-large from the entire district. The amendment would create 80 Assembly districts instead of 40 without increasing the size of the Assembly. Senators would continue to be elected by the entire district.
DeCroce said the change is consistent with the way most state’s elect their representatives and would create more accountability and better representation in Trenton for citizens.
She said in the large, multi-county districts now in place, voters are often faced with the choice of Assembly candidates who live miles away from their municipality and who are not familiar with the issues in some parts of the district.
“The amendment I am proposing will allow voters to select representatives who are more familiar with the people’s concerns and who are more accountable and accessible to the voters,” said the veteran legislator.
DeCroce said she hopes that the state redistricting commission that is starting the process of carving out new legislative districts will take her proposal into consideration when mapping new districts.
“I hope the members of the commission who look at the current legislative district map will realize that many of the districts are out of balance and that changes are needed to improve citizen representation in Trenton,” said the Assemblywoman.
DeCroce says she is urging her legislative colleagues to put her proposed amendments on the ballot next November and let voters make the choice for the kind of representation they want.
“Instead of the politicians making choices for the people, we should allow the people to choose the election system that works best for them, “concluded DeCroce.