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Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe

Kean: Redistricting amendment limits voter choice

By Nikita Biryukov, November 20 2018 2:07 pm

Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean attacked legislative Democrats over a recently-introduced constitutional amendment that he and non-partisan observers say would skew the state’s district lines against the GOP.

“The constitutional amendment proposed by New Jersey Democrats is not about making our elections fairer or legislative districts more competitive,” Kean said. “This sham of an amendment is about power. It’s about Democrats who have controlled the Legislature for nearly two decades trying to cement their power by permanently rigging the election process in their favor.”

Under the current system, the Demcoratic and Republican state chairs each select half the members of the 12-member redistricting board. The amendment would cut that number to two, giving the Senate president, Assembly speaker and minority leaders in both chambers two picks each.

That provision would reduce the power of Democratic State Chairman John Currie, who is aligned with Gov. Phil Murphy.

Though, the issue for Republicans lies elsewhere.

The amendment would also tie districts to a fairness test based on statewide contests for Governor and U.S. Senate. Republicans have not won a U.S. Senate race in the state since 1972.

Fortunately for Republicans, there’s almost no chance the amendment will reach the three-fifths threshold it needs to pass in one years. Given that, Democrats will have to pass the amendment by simple majority for two consecutive years.

It’ll then go on the ballot.

A vote on the amendment is expected in December.

“This proposed constitutional amendment is an indefensible attempt by New Jersey Democrats to prevent millions of voters from having an opportunity to make a choice in truly competitive legislative elections,” Kean said. “Their effort to permanently rig the election process in their favor was shredded by independent experts the last time it was considered, and they’re doing everything possible to prevent the same level of scrutiny from sinking their shameful plan yet again.”

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