BettyLou DeCroce says people are now “paying attention” to election reform proposals she first made last year.
The level of attention, of course, remains to be seen.
DeCroce, a Republican assemblywoman from mostly Morris County LD-26, has again proposed constitutional amendments to change how presidential and legislative elections are handled.
This is a timely discussion.
Elections and the simple mechanics of voting is now a major, national issue.
Combine that with congressional and legislative redistricting – ongoing in New Jersey – after the 2020 Census and you can understand that everything about voting merits attention.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean anything of substance about the system itself is going to change.
Let’s first take a look at DeCroce’s presidential election proposal.
She would award electoral votes by congressional district – as opposed to the current, winner-take-all system.
In New Jersey, a state the Democratic presidential candidate has won eight times in a row, this idea would obviously help Republicans.
For example, if this plan was in effect last year, Donald Trump would have secured three electoral votes for winning CD-2, CD-3 and CD-4.
CD-3 would have been the wild card in this hypothetical scenario. Democrat Andy Kim was re-elected there, but Trump carried the district 49.4 percent to 49.2 percent. The other two districts were won by Republicans Jeff Van Drew and Chris Smith.
Given the fact DeCroce’s idea would mean a few electoral votes for Republicans – as opposed to none – it’s likely going nowhere in a Democratic state. It is the Legislature, after all, that would have to put the question on the ballot. And why would Democratic lawmakers do anything that would help a Republican presidential candidate?
Still, just about any attention on the Electoral College is appreciated.
Many on the left want to get rid of it and for good reason. The idea that whoever gets the most votes wins should not be a foreign concept. That, however, is unlikely to happen anytime soon.
DeCroce’s reform would be more equitable if every state did the same, but it’s hard to see that happening. Right now only Maine and Nebraska award electoral votes by congressional district. And last year they split – Trump won the Maine district and Joe Biden won in Nebraska.
What may be more politically palatable is DeCroce’s legislative idea.
In fact, it’s hard to think of a non-political reason why it’s not a good idea.
Her plan would keep the state’s 40 legislative districts and elect one senator from each, as is the case now.
She also would keep electing two Assembly members from each district. But she would split each district in half and elect one Assembly person from each half.
So, we would have Assembly members from the northern and southern, or if you prefer, east and west, ends of a district. Sure, this may seem a bit hard to get used to, but it would result in Assembly members representing smaller groups of people, which theoretically could be a good thing.
It is also in line with the philosophy of Congress where House members usually represent fewer people than senators do. States small in population with only one House member are the exception.
What this would do, of course, is upset incumbents who both live in the same part of the district.
DeCroce, who is leaving office at the end of the year, need not worry about that.
But many others might.
So, this idea, unfortunately, probably isn’t going anywhere either.
Few traits are more bipartisan than political survival.