An Enthusiastic, Emphatic HELL NO!! on Question #3 in NJ

The New Jersey Statehouse and Capitol Building In Trenton

Ballot Question #3 is a power grab by those with enough power already. When you vote NO on Question #3, please do so with extra vigor.

New Jersey voters will decide three ballot measures between now and Election Day, Nov 3:  Question #1 to legalize cannabis, #2 provides tax relief for military vets, and a 3rd ballot measure dealing with redistricting, that once a decade opportunity for partisan lawmakers to draw up their own districts. Some Democrats in Trenton want to delay redistricting for two years citing COVID and potentially faulty Census data. I don’t buy it. I’ve already described how NJ’s redistricting process perpetuates discrimination against women and 3rd party voters and so the excuse that the delay protects marginalized voters is hard to take seriously.

I mean, where y’all been the last 300 years??

I’d bet my last dime bag that the real purpose for ballot Question #3 is for the machine democrats in South Jersey to dominate the redistricting process and fix NJ’s political boundaries to their liking for another 8-10 years. When I tweeted as much yesterday, it went as close to “viral” as it gets for me, roughly 30,000 impressions at last count. Clearly, there’s a hunger and a curiosity among NJ voters about Question #3.

“How does this benefit the Machine?” came one reply. “Can you send me a link to learn more?”

I started by sharing this link from the NJ League of Women Voters of NJ who decried a “permanent change to a one-time problem” while articulating their NO vote on Question # 3.

Henal Patel directs the Democracy and Justice Program at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice. Her testimony in Trenton against Question #3 was compelling but ultimately unpersuasive to the lawmakers who advanced the measure onto this year’s ballot.

“We oppose the proposed bill because it will exacerbate the cracks of structural racism in our foundation by using the existing, outdated legislative maps, which do not include the substantial growth of people of color in New Jersey since 2010, thereby diluting the political strength, influence, and power to which people of color are entitled based on their composition of New Jersey’s population as it exists right now.”

There are 10 slots on the redistricting committee, 5 Democrats and 5 Republicans, all chosen by their respective state party chairs. John Currie, who runs the NJ Democratic State Committee, has repelled numerous attempts by South Jersey machine (aka Norcross Dems) to dominate the Democratic Party. A NO vote on Question #3 keeps those those five picks in Chairman Currie’s hands. A two-year delay hands all 5 picks to Currie’s presumptive heir apparent LeRoy Jones, the Trenton super lobbyist who also chairs the Essex County Democrats while nurturing ties to the South Jersey machine. Coincidentally, Chairman Jones previously occupied the Assembly seat currently held by John McKeon, Question #3’s biggest booster.

Partisan Bloodsport

The whole point of redistricting in NJ is for partisans (ie: democrats and republicans) to entrench their status quo du jour. New Jersey’s redistricting process was never about giving voters compact, competitive districts. In fact, the whole process if the opposite of that: party first. Then principles. Democratic and Republican voters come last and independent voters are stripped from the calculus.

And that’s why, every few years, there’s a fresh attempt to game the system. It’s been less than two years since the last partisan attempt to highjack redistricting while acting virtuous about it.

“While wrapped in the language of anti-gerrymandering redistricting reform, the proposed constitutional amendment largely ignores best practices and instead orders mapmakers to impose Democrats’ advantage in statewide elections onto local legislative districts.”

Whenever I write about redistricting, the conclusion never waivers: New Jersey doesn’t need 10 commissioners to create new legislative boundaries. A smartly designed app could do it for us, without the partisan fuss, probably in a matter of nanoseconds!

And the result would be vastly superior and infinitely fairer than the partisan nincompoopery that’s loaded into Ballot Question #3.

A decisive NO vote on Ballot Question #3 should send a resounding message to lawmakers and would-be commissioners that We the People reject this round of power-hoarding by Trenton insiders.

They’ll probably ignore the message.

Vote NO on 3 anyway.

 

Jay Lassiter is an aging NJ political raconteur with a 4.94 Uber rating. He covered the last redistricting in 2010. If Chairman Currie wants pack the redistricting commission with women and homosexuals, Jay is ready to serve. 

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