Thursday, February 10, 2011

2010 Census and Local Reapportionment - Hoboken's Wards to Change Shape

A few readers have asked me about how the census affects the municipal ward breakouts due to potential population shifts between the wards. Below is an excerpt from a Rutgers University report entitled:

Redistricting New Jersey After the Census of 2010

"The second of the changes to bipartisan districting commissions dealt with municipal wards. As of January 1, 2006, 64 of New Jersey’s 566 municipalities use forms of local government in which some or all of their governing body members are elected from wards into which the community has been divided.

In 1981 the Legislature eliminated various procedures used earlier for the drawing of municipal ward boundaries and provided a uniform process for all municipalities. After every census the municipal wards will be re-drawn, if necessary, by a board of ward commissioners consisting of the members of the county board of election plus the municipal clerk. The county board of election is made up of four members (two from each party); all are commissioned by the Governor upon nomination by the leaderships of the two major political parties in the county.

If a political deadlock occurs, the person with the deciding vote is the municipal clerk.
In earlier years, the municipal clerk often was a highly political official, in many cases holding this position as a partisan elective office. This has changed drastically. Today, municipal clerks in New Jersey are appointed officials. They must complete an extensive training program and pass a state examination to hold their office. After a brief period of time, they attain tenure and may be removed only for cause.

While political factors may tinge an original appointment, most clerks now are in a position to perform their duties without political obligation or favoritism. The board of ward commissioners is required by law to meet within three months of the promulgation by the Governor of the federal decennial census, and it has 30 days to complete its work. The law requires that wards be formed of compact and contiguous territory. The most precise requirement is that the population of the largest ward may not exceed the population of the smallest ward by more than 10% of the mean average population of the wards. This provision, in essence, specifies the same standard of population equality that the New Jersey Supreme Court has implied is appropriate for state Legislative districts."

Link from Rutgers Report:

Impact on Hoboken's Wards- Census 2010

Thus, for Hoboken and its wards and districts for Municipal elections, the County Republican chair and Democratic chair get to pick two members each to make up a balanced commission of 4 people, two from each of the main parties. In the event of a tie based on my understanding, it is broken by the City Clerk of the Municipality, none other than Jimmy Farina. I do not as of yet know if there will be any public hearing on the County level but there are some on the state level including one this weekend in Jersey City I posted earlier this week.

Based on the rule of no more than 10% deviation for redistricting, the 2nd Ward will clearly have to lose some area (and at least a population of  582) and the 6th Ward will have to gain a lot of territory (and a gain at least a population of 1,462) to balance the wards out. How that is done is anyone's guess and could effect the outcome of future elections. Below is a chart with the population breakouts for each ward.

While it is possible these changes could be in effect for the June party primaries, the likelihood is any changes to ward boundaries won't occur until November elections this year. In any event the up coming City Council Ward elections coming up in May will not be effected. The next round of ward elections that would be effected would be in 2015 as blogger "Lincoln Logger" correctly stated on another thread.

Rutgers 2010 Report on NJ Redistricting embedded for reading:

For additional reading on NJ Statewide reapportionment go to NJ Spotlight at: