On July 26, the New Jersey Globe reported that the Republican leaders of New Jersey’s redistricting commissions had requested clarification from Secretary of State Tahesha Way (D) on how incarcerated people in the state should be counted in reapportionment and redistricting processes. Under S758, passed in 2020, New Jersey must count incarcerated individuals at their last known residential address for the purposes of legislative redistricting, rather than the location of their incarceration at the time of the census. A698, which currently awaits action from Gov. Phil Murphy (D), would expand that requirement to redistricting for municipal, county, school board, and congressional purposes.
Under S758 and A698, the secretary of state must submit an apportionment report based on numbers from the New Jersey Department of Corrections (DOC). Legislative Apportionment Commission Republican Chairman Al Barlas and Congressional Redistricting Commission GOP Chairman Doug Steinhardt said in their request to Way that the U.S. Census Bureau’s use of differential privacy in the 2020 census would produce data inconsistent with DOC data because “this statistical technique deliberately manipulates census data to assertedly protect the confidentiality of respondents by introducing ‘statistical noise; into both population totals and demographic characteristics.” “Barlas and Steinhardt asked whether there was a plan for “addressing the consequences of differential privacy with regard to New Jersey’s prison populations [and] … how will discrepancies between census and DOC data be rectified.”
Barlas and Steinhardt requested that Way respond by Aug. 2.