A statewide system of
governing that is efficient, effective, trustworthy, and responsive
to citizens and their needs; and that actively promotes good citizenship
and effective participation in decision-making.
|New Jerseyans played a prominent
role in shaping the initial documents
and direction of American democracy. Our state continues to
shape democracy’s direction today, with landmark initiatives
regarding sex offenders, better land-use planning, and sustainability
as highlighted in this report. Even so, our research shows that
most New Jerseyans cannot name either of our two U.S. senators,
and half of us do not know which party controls the Legislature.
If our general knowledge of key public affairs and issues is
as weak, our tradition of democracy could be imperiled. Indeed,
our state’s voter turnout is declining. With today’s pace of
rapid change and increasingly complex issues, we need more than
ever a set of representatives we can work with and trust. Our
lack of knowledge about and participation in politics works
against our need for an efficient, effective, trustworthy, and
What we know
change in knowledge of government
we don't know
Although we do know that we have the highest density of local
governments in the nation with 566 municipalities, 618 school
districts, 21 counties, and numerous local authorities, we do
not have good measures of the efficiency of state and local
To be most effective, public participation in government should
be more informed. We have no way to measure how good we are
as citizens in getting our voices heard in government.
The level of government action (local, state, federal) should
meet the level of the problem (local, regional, national). We
have no way to measure the right balance between governmental
activity at the local, state, and federal levels.