Thursday, October 1, 2020

New Jersey Mulling over how to Better Represent Hispanics in Redistricting

New Jersey was one of the first states to receive its redistricting data and as such, is ahead of the pack in redrawing its districts.  It is also now taking the first crack at how to best represent the Hispanic population in the state.

The state is deliberating over two approaches.  The first, “packing” would concentrate Hispanics in one district and the other, “cracking,” dilutes them over many districts.

“It’s a national strategy,” David A. Bositis, senior political analyst at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies in Washington, D.C., said. “Democrats want to spread out minorities. Republicans want to create white districts, or ones with a small enough minority population that it won’t have an effect on the vote.”

New Jersey is under pressure to meet a deadline of April 3 with a final map due to upcoming elections in the fall.

Both options can have negative consequences.

The practice of packing minorities into a district can give the group increased strength as a voting bloc, allowing them to elect a minority but also runs the risk of decreasing the strength of the party overall if the opposing party wins the majority of the rest of the districts.  While Republicans have never said they formally support packing this is their favored strategy.

If minorities are spread out over several districts, this can give the party (Democrats more often than not) a competitive advantage, but minorities have less power to select their candidates.

“For us, it’s not about parties, it’s about whether Latinos are going to have Latinos in the Statehouse,” Martin Perez, president of the Latino Leadership Alliance of New Jersey, said.  “If the party doesn’t want to give us the line, we can go out and get our own on the ballot.”

Census results show that New Jersey’s Hispanics population grew by 13 percent since 2000 and now surpasses 17 percent.  Hispanics are now the largest minority group in the state, beating out blacks for the first time in the state’s history.

Fox News Latino