Senator Declan O’Scanlon said a proposed amendment to the New Jersey Constitution being advanced by Democrats is designed to deny voters the opportunity to hold the majority party accountable in state legislative elections.
Sen. Declan O’Scanlon said a proposed amendment to the N.J. Constitution being advanced by Democrats is designed to deny voters the opportunity to hold the majority party accountable in state legislative elections. (SenateNJ.com)
“While Democrats have succeeded in having their desired maps adopted during the last two redistricting cycles, there at least has been the opportunity for Republicans to make the case for creating truly competitive legislative districts that would provide voters the opportunity to hold the majority party accountable,” said O’Scanlon (R-Monmouth). “The proposed constitutional amendment, however, would permanently tip the scales in favor of Democrats by changing the metrics used to draw legislative districts in a way that is virtually guaranteed to result in continued Democratic control of the Legislature, regardless of how people actually vote in legislative elections. Their proposal short-circuits the election process by preordaining the result before a single ballot is cast. It makes a mockery of democracy in New Jersey.”
O’Scanlon said the proposed constitutional amendment would introduce a flawed application of a so-called “fairness test” that attempts to link voter sentiment in prior federal elections to the outcome of future state legislative elections.
A number of independent election experts have explained that data shows that voters routinely cast their ballots differently for federal and state elections. For example, while New Jersey voters routinely favor Democratic candidates for federal office, including President and U.S. Senate, they also routinely support Republicans who run for governor and have cast more votes cumulatively for Republican legislative candidates in several recent elections, although those votes have not been reflected in a shift of legislative control from Democrats to Republicans.
“It’s clear that voters for important state government offices want the opportunity to send a message when they think New Jersey is headed in the wrong direction,” added O’Scanlon. “They demonstrate that when they alternate electing Republicans and Democrats as Governor. Our redistricting process, however, has produced legislative maps that are designed to prevent the Democratic legislative majorities from being threatened when public opinion turns against them. That’s how they’ve been able to stay in power continuously for nearly two decades, even in years when Republicans legislative candidates have earned the majority of the vote statewide. This proposed constitutional amendment makes things exponentially worse by eliminating any risk that they might ever be held accountable. For Democrats to maintain that their proposal is in any way about increasing fairness or competition both destroys their credibility and unmasks their disdain for true democracy.”