NJ Politics Digest: Redistricting Plan Faces Opposition

A mechanical voting machine which took the place of ballot papers for elections in New York in the 1950s.

Democrats are hoping to change how New Jersey conducts its state legislative redistricting process. Keystone/Getty Images

New Jersey legislators got an earful Thursday from opponents of a Democratic plan to change the state’s legislative redistricting process.

Opponents of the proposal covered a broad swath of political views, from liberal groups to Republican lawmakers, according to reports.

While most critics attacked the Democrats for what they claim is an effort to make it easier for them to gerrymander districts to their own advantage, at least one lawmaker said he was “bewildered” at the vehemence of the negative reactions, according to a report in Politco.

State Sen. Nicholas Scutari, the prime sponsor of the bill in the upper house, called reactions to his measure “outlandish” and denied that the plan would lead to gerrymandering, Politico reported. The report noted that Scutari was the only person to testify at the senate hearing in favor of the plan.
The proposal has even been attacked by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, now head of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee.

That committee is fighting Republican gerrymandering efforts across the United States, and Holder said in a statement in the New York Times that the state plan failed to “put the interests of the people ahead of politicians.”

Any plan to change the redistricting process will eventually have to be approved by voters. To get the measure on the ballot, it would have to either be approved by a three-fifths majority of legislators or pass with simple majorities two years in a row.

Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin are hoping for the latter path.

Quote of the Day: “Whether it’s the League of Women Voters (or) the NAACP, there’s just an overwhelming show of support from groups who often find themselves aligned with the Democratic Party, for different reasons. But for everybody to say ‘No, this is wrong,’ I commend you and thank you,” — Republican state Sen. Chris Brown, on the broad opposition to a Democratic plan to change the legislative redistricting process.

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NJ Politics Digest: Redistricting Plan Faces Opposition