Category Archives: Voting & districts

Lawsuit challenging how Republicans drew Pennsylvania’s congressional districts 6 years ago will proceed, court decides

Lancaster Online, from AP, 11/9/11

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A state-level challenge to how congressional districts were drawn by Republicans six years ago will proceed on a compressed schedule, a closely divided Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled on Thursday.

The Supreme Court’s 4-3 decision overturned a lower court judge’s ruling last month that had put the dispute on hold.

The order said the case “involves issues of immediate public importance” and gave Commonwealth Court only until Dec. 31 to issue findings of fact and legal conclusions.
Redistricting reform effort to kick off in Lancaster County

“We are thrilled that Pennsylvania voters will have their day in court,” said Mimi McKenzie, legal director of the Public Interest Law Center and part of a team that represents the plaintiffs, a group that includes people who live in each of the 18 districts and the state’s League of Women Voters.

“I think the average citizen doesn’t have to do more than look at the distorted shapes of these districts to understand that something is very much amiss,” McKenzie said….

keep reading at Lancaster Online

This map, part of a presentation by Fair Districts PA, shows Pennsylvania’s 7th U.S. House district, which extends into eastern Lancaster County. It is regularly cited as one of the clearest examples of gerrymandering in the country. [The preceding caption is from Lancaster Online. Look at the salient point of Tredyffrin to the east: it adjoins the 7th district and you could be in the 2nd and 13th districts in a couple of minutes. Absurd! Gerrymandering is the antithesis of democracy and community representation. Gerrymandering is a bane that degrades government, spreads disillusion with voting, and perpetuates political extremism by aiming to create non-competitive districts (but that part isn’t going to work around here in 2018!).]

Obama: sign on for redistricting reform, protect fair voting

from email from Barack Obama, 10/24/17

…Soon, our states will be redrawing their Congressional and state legislative district lines. It’s called redistricting, and it will take place in 2021, after the next Census takes place. That may seem far off, but the time to get started on this issue is now.

This is our best chance to eliminate the partisan gerrymandering that has blocked progress on so many of the issues we all care about. Simply put, redistricting has the potential to be a major turning point for our democracy. But we need to be prepared.

That’s where the National Democratic Redistricting Committee comes in. Led by Eric Holder, my former Attorney General, they’re the strategic hub for Democratic activity leading up to redistricting. In partnership with groups like OFA, the NDRC is building the infrastructure Democrats need to ensure a fair outcome. But they need your help.

Sign up on this page and let them know that you want in.

The NDRC is providing a comprehensive strategy for the path forward. They’re challenging unconstitutional maps in court, and doing the necessary state-by-state electoral work to make sure Democrats have a seat at the table for redistricting….

Supreme Court Set To Hear Redistricting Case That Could Remake American Politics

By Sam Levine, HuffPpost, 10/3/17

The court has never said whether lawmakers can go too far in drawing electoral boundaries to benefit their political party.

Wendy Sue Johnson has lived in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, for nearly five decades ? and for most of her life, she remembers competitive elections as voters from surrounding rural areas packed in with voters from the town.

Johnson, a 48-year-old lawyer and former teacher who identifies as a Democrat, used to bring in the chairs of both the Republican and Democratic parties to talk to her students.

“It would flip back and forth, so people had to work hard during elections and convince the voters that they were qualified and had the right policies and ideas,” Johnson told HuffPost.

In 2011, that changed.

Following the 2010 census, Wisconsin Republican lawmakers drew new maps for the state Assembly that moved Johnson from her old Assembly district into a new one packed with Democratic voters. It was an attempt to diminish the power of Democratic votes like Johnson’s by concentrating them in a single district and consolidating Republican electoral power elsewhere. The boundary separating Johnson’s new Assembly district from her old one, which is currently represented by a Republican, runs right outside the side door to her house.

Now Johnson is one of 12 Wisconsin voters who are now plaintiffs in Gill v. Whitford, a landmark case the Supreme Court will hear on Tuesday that could put an end to that kind of partisan redistricting….

keep reading at HuffPpost