Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean said a constitutional amendment (SCR-43) being fast-tracked by Democrats is designed to make legislative elections less competitive while cementing permanent Democratic majorities in the New Jersey Legislature.
Sen. Tom Kean said a constitutional amendment proposed by Democrats is designed to make legislative elections less competitive while cementing permanent Democratic majorities in the New Jersey Legislature. (SenateNJ.com)
“The constitutional amendment proposed by New Jersey Democrats is not about making our elections fairer or legislative districts more competitive,” said Kean. “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.”
Democrats first attempted to pass the amendment, then SCR-188/ACR-4, in late 2015 and early 2016.
Non-partisan election experts were unified in their opposition to the amendment due to the inclusion of a flawed application of a “fairness test” that linked unrelated prior federal and gubernatorial election results to how legislative districts would be drawn.
While Democrats say their goal is to increase the number of competitive legislative elections, Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, explained in an editorial detailing his concerns how the process proposed in the amendment “would falsely skew the overall vote share toward the Democrats,” and “entrenches a permanent Democratic majority by using a tortured definition of the word ‘competitive.'”
Murray further expressed concern that the interpretive statement that would be presented on the ballot to voters given the choice of approving the constitutional amendment is deliberately misleading, going so far as to call it “a bald-faced attempt to pull the wool over voters’ eyes.”
“Anyone reading the ballot question and interpretive statement about creating competitive districts would come away with a far different interpretation of what that means than what the proposed Constitutional language will actually produce,” he said.
Kean warned that the late scheduling of a hearing on the amendment for just after the Thanksgiving weekend represents a clear attempt by the Democratic majority to prevent critics and experts from having the opportunity to highlight the perils of the measure as successfully as they have in the past.
“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,” added Kean. “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.”
“This episode is the perfect example of what happens when an entrenched majority begins to feel entitled and believes that voters should not have the opportunity to hold them accountable,” Kean concluded. “Democrats are demonstrating exactly why this constitutional amendment is a threat to both democracy and good government in New Jersey.”
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