LJ Demands Release of New Jersey Redistricting Maps

For immediate release: March 4, 2011

Contact: John Garcia, Director of Communications (212) 739-7513

LatinoJustice PRLDEF calls upon the New Jersey Apportionment Commission to release all redistricting maps under consideration in order to provide New Jersey Latino residents an opportunity to fully participate in this important process.

The failure to have a completely transparent process undoubtedly decreases the community’s involvement in the process and increases the likelihood of potential litigation, said Jose Perez, Associate General Counsel, LatinoJustice PRLDEF.

“The commission’s delay in making available its proposed maps will limit the opportunity for the Latino community to be heard and effectively participate in this crucial redistricting process,” Perez said. “If a map is adopted that decreases or further limits the opportunity of the Latino community to elect candidates of their choice, we are prepared to litigate.”

Latinos in New Jersey are particularly interested in seeing how the lines are being drawn given their growth across the state and the lack of equitable representation in the legislature. Census figures released last month show that Latinos now make up more than 17% of the population. But Latinos make up only 6 percent of the members of the state assembly and currently there is only one state senator.

The disparity between the Latino population and the number of Latino elected officials in the legislature has been a growing concern for the community. The Latino community was eagerly awaiting the first round of maps to gauge the commission’s stance on this crucial issue of concern to fair representation.

Thursday was the deadline for the state’s 10-member redistricting commission of five Democrats and five Republicans to decide what the state’s legislative district maps will look like for the next 10 years. The commission declared an impasse in agreeing on the political lines and New Jersey State Supreme Court Justice Stuart Rabner named Rutgers University Political Scientist Professor Alan Rosenthal as the tie-breaking 11th member of the commission.

The commission has not released any maps that were considered during the past 30 days since receiving the population data from the U.S. Census.

Prof. Rosenthal, who studies state legislatures, will have 30 days to quickly assemble a staff, hold public meetings and settle on a legislative map in advance of the April filing deadline for candidates.

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