To protect the fairness and accuracy of the census count during an unprecedented pandemic, the Assembly Judiciary Committee today advanced legislation (ACR-188) to prepare for a temporary extension of the redistricting process if the census is delayed.
Committee Chair, Assemblyman Raj Mukherji and Vice Chair, Assemblywoman Carol Murphy issued the following statements:
Assemblyman Mukherji (D-Hudson): “We must have a complete and accurate Census count to ensure New Jersey residents have fair representation at every level of government.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is significantly hindering the U.S. Census Bureau’s ability to compile necessary data to reflect populations in hard-to-reach portions of our state.
“The data must also reflect the diversity for which New Jersey is known. For example, according to the 2010 Census, the state’s Asian population grew by more than 1,400 percent since 1970 when less than 48,000 Asians called New Jersey home to more than 725,000 residents in 2010.
“An undercount in Census data would impact the state for the next decade. New Jersey voters should be given the opportunity to decide if amending our State Constitution to allow for a slight delay in legislative redistricting is the proper course of action.”
Assemblywoman Murphy (D-Burlington): “We know U.S. Census data delivery will be significantly delayed this year due to the COVID-19 health crisis.
“Census information not only helps make certain that our state is fairly represented at all levels of government, the data also helps health experts predict the spread of diseases through communities with vulnerable populations such children or the elderly. That is especially important now.
“Hard-to-count areas of New Jersey also deserve fair representation. I am particularly concerned about Cape May and Atlantic counties which have self-response rates of 29.5 percent and 55.6 percent, respectively. New Jersey’s statewide self-response rate is 63.9 percent.
“Delaying New Jersey’s legislative redistricting process is the most logical step we can take to ensure that the census count is as accurate and exhaustive as possible.
“Let’s ask the voters to decide.”