Aaron Burden via Unsplash

Imani Oakley’s recent Town Square opinion piece on whether Democrats may push to combine all of Montclair into a redrawn 11th congressional district, which would affect the historically Black 10th congressional district, underscores why citizens need to be engaged in the redistricting process underway in New Jersey.

She states that redistricting decisions might be made to advance political party interests instead of improving representation for the South End and Fourth Ward of Montclair.

The League of Women Voters of New Jersey is leading a coalition called “Fair Districts NJ” to push the NJ Redistricting Commission for a process grounded in meaningful public engagement. It seeks at least 25 public meetings across New Jersey to get citizen input, and the development of clear, non-partisan line-drawing standards ranked in order of priority to guide redistricting commissioners and provide checks against political manipulation, including:

  • A racial equity provision that reinforces the principles of the Voting Rights Act and ensures that New Jersey’s communities of color have an equal opportunity to participate in the political process.
  • Preservation of communities of interest to the greatest extent possible, as determined through testimony derived through the public engagement process.
  • That plans shall not be established for the purpose of favoring or disfavoring any office holder, candidate or political party.

These are the principles that should be guiding the redrawn maps. It’s imperative that voters make their views heard, as Ms. Oakley stated. Anyone can sign up to attend upcoming public meetings at fairdistrictsnj.org/events. It’s critical that we push the partisan commissioners to put power where it belongs — into the hands of New Jersey voters.

Donna Ward
Chair of Voter Services, League of Women Voters of the Montclair Area


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