Didn’t know about Tuesday’s elections in NJ? You’re not alone
Three-quarters of Garden State residents are completely unaware that any elections will be held Tuesday, even though every seat in the NJ Assembly up for grabs according to a recent Rutgers-Eagleton survey.
Two political experts said the news doesn't come as a surprise, but they don’t blame the public for being so clearly apathetic. The pointed their fingers at the system.
“We have non-competitive races,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute. “We’re looking at 40 Assembly districts here up for grabs and only two of them are truly competitive. The districts are gerrymandered to favor Republicans or Democrats so much that it really doesn’t matter if you go out and vote.”
That’s not likely to change until after the 2020 U.S. Census at the earliest because that’s the next time legislative district maps will be redone, but there’s no guarantee the next round of redistricting will make any races more competitive.
“We’re having lower (voter) turnout than Communist China even though we have a very similar way of picking who’s going to serve in our assembly. It’s basically Party leaders who decide who is going to be their nominees,” Murray said with a laugh.
Another reason there was so little attention being paid to the 2015 elections is because for years, New Jersey has had elections in odd numbered years and people just don’t tune in, Murray said. Another veteran political pundit said for most New Jerseyans, there’s nothing to be gained by voting.
“Why should they know that there’s an election? What’s in it for them? There’s no clear link for them between what happens in their local assembly election and what happens in their daily lives. They don’t think the taxes are going to go down. They don’t think the cost of living is going to be any less,” said Peter Woolley, a political science professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University.
The public is actually being smart by not wasting their time thinking about something that would make very little difference for them Woolley said.
Kevin McArdle has covered the State House for New Jersey 101.5 news since 2002. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on twitter at @kevinmcardle1.