Raise Your Voice!
The Redistricting and Apportionment Commissions are holding hearings now. The redistricting process needs your voice on behalf of Fair Maps!
Testimony is one of the most effective tools we have to ensure that those in charge of redistricting hear from and are accountable to the public. Research has shown that public testimony at redistricting hearings is effective when it offers specific instructions to mapmakers, focuses on small-scale changes (like keeping a neighborhood together), and effectively defines a community and its needs for representation.
You are the expert on your community. That's why the redistricting process needs your voice!
Interested? Here's how to get involved.
First, pledge to attend a public hearing. Click Here to see a list of upcoming hearings, and indicate which ones you can attend. A Fair Districts New Jersey representative will follow-up with you.
Each Commission has committed to hold ten public hearings. Hearing dates and registration information are available on the Commissions' websites:
Click Here to check the public meetings pages for the Apportionment Commission (which redraws legislative districts)
Click Here for the Redistricting Commission public meetings page (for congressional districts)
Second, review materials to help you prepare effective testimony, and review the tips below.
Fair Districts Testimony Training Video
Third, review the Fair Districts New Jersey non-partisan redistricting principles. Let the Commissioners know that they must commit to clear, non-partisan line drawing standards, including:
A racial equity provision reinforcing the principles of the Voting Rights Act, ensuring that New Jersey's communities of color have an equal opportunity to participate in the political process.
A commitment to preserving communities of interest to the greatest extent possible.
A guarantee that plans shall not be established for the purpose of favoring or disfavoring any office holder, candidate, or political party.
Tips for Preparing Testimony
Once you have signed up to attend a hearing, it's time to prepare testimony. Some tips for offering effective testimony:
1. Know the Rules
The rules for both Commissions state that the Chair may limit testimony to five minutes. Registration may berequired for those who wish to present testimony, refer to the hearing notices posted on each commission website. You can also submit written testimony to each commission via email.
2. Introduce yourself and your community
Begin your testimony by introducing yourself and your community. It is important that you describe your neighborhood, municipality or community of interest.
Be specific! Lead with facts and details about your community, its unique qualities and the boundaries that define it.
3. Think Local and Personalize
Research has shown that small-scale redistricting recommendations are the most likely to be adopted, so focus your testimony on your local neighborhood or town.
It's also helpful to personalize your testimony. Connect your identity and the specifics of your community to redistricting - how this impacts you! Redistricting is about whether all our communities receive the representation and the resources they are entitled to, so describe the public services you rely on, the interests and public goods you share in common with the rest of your community. How will redistricting impact the schools, parks, transportation infrastructure, and medical providers that serve your community, and your ability to advocate for them?
4. Provide Clear Instructions
It's important to clearly state what you are asking for, and to provide the Commission with clear line-drawing instructions. Name the specific towns, neighborhoods or municipalities you would like to see in the same district. And clearly reiterate the Fair Districts principles which should govern redistricting.
Check out our Events Page for information about testifying at hearings, sign up for email updates about NJ redistricting, check out our resources and trainings, and learn to draw your own legislative and congressional district maps!