JERSEY CITY, NJ – With the nation’s once a decade census count delayed by the COVID-19 public health crisis, Hudson County lawmakers are joining in a call to prepare for a temporary extension of the New Jersey’s redistricting process whereby New Jersey legislative seats are apportioned across the State’s 40 districts. 

“We must have a complete and accurate Census count to ensure New Jersey residents have fair representation at every level of government,” Assemblyman Raj Mukherji (D-Hudson) said. Mukherji, who also serves as Chair of the Assembly Judiciary Committee, added that “an undercount in Census data would impact the state for the next decade. New Jersey voters should be given the opportunity to decide if amending our State Constitution to allow for a slight delay in legislative redistricting is the proper course of action.”

While New Jersey’s statewide response rate stands at 64 percent, just ahead of the national average of 62 percent, Hudson County’s, as of Wednesday, July 8, continues to lag behind at 53 percent. 

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Under current state law, census data is used to create new legislative districts at the beginning of each decade. However, with the US Census Bureau saying that they may not get findings of this year’s count to the states until July, 2021, new legislative districts cannot be ready in time to meet New Jersey’s legal deadlines for state legislative elections, causing disruptions in the election process. 

If approved by voters, the constitutional amendment being proposed would require the 11-member Apportionment Commission to delay its adoption of new legislative districts until after the elections of the 2021 elections are held, but in time for the new districts to be in place for the 2023 legislative elections. 

The changes would not extend or alter the terms of any currently sitting legislators. 

Bayonne’s Assemblyman Nicholas Chiaravalloti (D-Hudson) also supports the measure saying that Hudson County’s dense population and diversity already makes it hard to count, an issue being compounded this year because of “the limitations placed on families and Census workers as a result of COVID-19.

“New Jersey residents deserve to get as close as possible to a complete census count. We cannot afford to fall short on our response rates this time around. Extending the deadlines to align with Census data gives us a chance to reach more residents.”

Click here to complete the 2020 Census.

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