From Data to Diversity

The Demographics of New Jersey’s Elected Officials

Executive Summary

Several thousand elected officials represent the interests of the citizens of New Jersey at the local, county, state, and federal levels. To date, a scarcity of available data has made it difficult to know how closely those officials reflect the demographics of the state’s population. Recent legislation attempts to address this knowledge gap by mandating the collection and analysis of the demographics, specifically race/ethnicity and gender, of the state’s elected officials. In this report, we provide details on what led to the legislation, how we developed and implemented the data collection process, and what we found. Among those data findings is evidence of persistent underrepresentation of women and significant disparities in representation among various racial/ethnic groups. Finally, we offer recommendations towards creating a model for the sustainable collection of this data over time, as well as practical interventions aimed at diversifying the pool of the state’s elected leaders.