A constitutional amendment allowing the state to delay its reapportionment until 2023 if it does not receive Census figures before Feb. 15, 2021, is likely to pass.
The measure was backed by Democratic leaders in the legislature.
It faced criticism and opposition from grassroots and good government groups, including the League of Women Voters, the NAACP, New Jersey Policy Perspective and the New jersey Institute for Social Justice, among others.
The groups charge delaying the state’s reapportionment would disenfranchise non-white — chiefly Latino and Asian — voters who have seen their populations grow far faster than those of other races.
Should the voters approve the amendment, legislative races in 2021 would be run using the current map, meaning such voters could have their power diluted for an extra two years.
The measure’s backers argued there was little choice. With the start of this year’s census delayed by about three months because of the pandemic, some Democrats in the legislature worried the Census Bureau would be unable to provide complete counts in time for the New Jersey’s June primaries.
The Census traditionally provides preliminary counts to New Jersey and four other states that hold odd-year legislative races ahead of its full data release to allow the states enough time to redraw district lines.
New Jersey has delayed its primaries before. In 2001, primaries were delayed weeks and held in late June. In 2013, the state held an August primary for a special election to fill the seat of late U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg.
The measure drew little of the attention that graced a referendum on marijuana legalization, which voters approved Tuesday.