NEWARK – Community leaders and activists, many of which played integral roles in the recent 2018 midterm victories across the state, joined together for a press conference at Newark City Hall to demand legislators pull support from Senate and Assembly Concurrent Resolutions SCR43/ ACR60, which seek to change the New Jersey Constitution in order to allow changes experts decry as perpetuating gerrymandering.
“We stand united in opposition to New Jersey legislators unfair attempt to change the state constitution, that experts and voters agree will lead to a slippery slope to gerrymandering. It is unjust to create a system where legislators have the power to cherry pick their voters. Activists around the state are ready to mobilize and hold their legislators accountable to stop this proposal,” said Analilia Mejia, Director of New Jersey Working Families Alliance
The group had sent a letter to legislators to express their opposition and demand they pull support from the fast tracked proposal, which passed through committee last week. The Senate Republican caucus also sent a letter to Democratic leadership calling for the permanent tabling of the amendment, while Governor Murphy has called the political process ‘completely unacceptable‘.
“This bill would undermine the continually changing demographics of the state and is being irresponsibly rushed by the Legislature, who we elected to do the work for New Jerseyans. They are foisting this nuanced legislation on the backs of an electorate that won’t have the resources to make an informed vote should it appear on the ballot leaving organizations such as our nonprofit to educate and inform the public. No organization has defended this partisan gerrymandering bill, so we ask all members of the Legislature to reject and vote No. All New Jerseyans, voters and nonvoters alike, need to call their Members of Assembly and State Senator and tell them to vote No,” said Uyen “Winn” Khuong, Director of Action Together New Jersey.
“Grassroots progressive groups did not spend 2018 organizing and door knocking to see their efforts wasted on a law that creates a permanent rigged system. That’s not what democracy is about. The Democratic Party should be better than this. As we’ve seen in other states, when gerrymandering happens, communities of color are marginalized and progressive policies fall off the agenda. We’re not about to let that happen in New Jersey. Our group is organized, unified, and ready to fight this,” said Sue Altman, South Jersey Women for Progressive Change
“These bills would protect and preserve vested interests and make it harder for independent voices to be heard and progress made. It also would allow for the diminishment of the vote certain groups of people – which is inconsistent with Democracy. This bill will not allow us to get to the closest approximation to one person one vote that we could get to and as such should be problematic to every citizen of NJ,” said Cathy Brienza, JOLT Ridgewood.
Anna Wong, co-lead of Indivisible NJ 5th District, said “Every vote counts – this is what we run on, this is what we won on. Now, after a blue wave has swept New Jersey, Democratic party bosses want to consolidate power by controlling whose votes get to count where. Gerrymandering is wrong which is why New Jersey already has an independent commission for drawing district lines. Politicizing the appointments for this committee calls into question the very fabric of our democratic process. We don’t need to cheat to win. We win by working with the people.”