Home>Campaigns>Redistricting in N.J. won’t begin until next month as state decides to wait for census data in a different format

New Jersey Secretary of State Tahesha Way. (Photo: State of New Jersey.)

Redistricting in N.J. won’t begin until next month as state decides to wait for census data in a different format

Decision will push appointment of Legislative Apportionment Commission tiebreaker

By David Wildstein, August 18 2021 4:10 pm

Data for congressional and legislative redistricting will be held up until next month as New Jersey awaits a formal receipt of numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau, Secretary of State Tahesha Way said on Wednesday.

While census officials released data on August 12 – numbers they said will not change when a more user-friendly format is completed on or before September 30, the state has decided to delay certification of redistricting data until then.

Way’s announcement, made in a letter to congressional and legislative redistricting officials from both parties, signals the state’s intent to begin the clock next month.

“My office understands the importance of this work and will complete this effort for the people of New Jersey in accordance with applicable law,” Way said.

Municipal population numbers must be adjusted to reflect a new law that requires incarcerated individuals to be reallocated to their original hometown for the purpose of legislative redistricting within seven days of receipt by the state.

Chief Justice Stuart Rabner has 30 days after the certification of the census data by the state to appoint a tiebreaker for legislative redistricting.  That clock won’t start until September.

It also pushes the deadline to name members of county commissioner redistricting commissions in Atlantic, Essex and Hudson counties.

Unless Gov. Phil Murphy signs a bill passed by the legislature last month to similarly jigger census data on where inmates in state correctional facilities resided prior to their incarceration, maps will be drawn using separate sets of data.  The current law applies only to congressional redistricting and not legislative, freeholder districts, or municipal council wards.

The Republican leaders of the legislative and congressional redistricting commissions asked Way to address how the state will handle the reallocation of census data.

For the first time, the U.S. Census Bureau is using something called Disclose Avoidance Modernization to randomly adjust municipal population data in order to prevent super computers to penetrate the identities of individuals who participated in the census.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, “the rise of computational power that threatens to reveal confidential information.”

“It is now possible, using sophisticated algorithms on powerful systems, to reverse-engineer large sets of aggregated, supposedly de-identified data,” the agency said in court filings.

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