Category Archives: Voting & districts

Fair Districts PA update

Fair Districts PA has been leading the movement to reform the way in which districts of the PA House and Senate and US Congress are drawn after each census. Pennsylvania has had the dubious fame of being the most gerrymandered state in the country, resulting in Democrats, the majority party among voters in the state, being the minority party in both houses in Harrisburg.

Many Dem office-holders and candidates, and some R’s, support the plan to take redistricting away from the politicians and give it to a citizens’ commission. Unfortunately, legislative leadership in Harrisburg has not yet allowed acceptable bills to advance. Maybe in 2019! This is not about political oneupmanship, but about reaffirming the right of the people to elect representatives of their choice and see them enact laws for the public benefit, such as fair education funding.

Here is where things stand now, in an excerpt from UPDATE: Alternatives, Action, Appreciation, by FDPA director Carol Kuniholm, July 24, 2018:

Our bills are dead for this session, but our work is far from over.

If you’ve followed our recent updates you know we did all we could to get a fair hearing and vote on a constitutional amendment to create an independent redistricting commission. Despite an amazing amount of good work by supporters, advocates and legislative allies, our bills were buried in legislative dysfunction and House leadership failure to negotiate consensus.

What’s next?

With few session days left, we will NOT be supporting any other legislation this year. Instead, we’ll be talking with experts, gathering ideas from supporters and legislators and defining priorities so we have a plan ready, and possibly legislation drafted, when the next session starts in January.

There are many possible alternatives.

All require research, discussion and a strategy for implementation. Here are some:

• Promote an independent citizens commission for congressional districts only (this wouldn’t require a constitutional amendment).

• Propose legislation to ensure transparency and public input for the processes currently in place, to constrain the current map-drawing process and to ensure maps drawn meet specific, enforceable standards.

• Use citizen mapping projects as a safeguard against distorted maps.

• Continue the effort to amend the PA Constitution to create a commission for both legislative and congressional districts, either to have in place for 2031 or looking for unexplored ways to have it in place by 2021.

Poll: only 28 percent of young voters say they will certainly vote in the 2018 midterms

[And sad to say, 28% would be good news, compared to past midterm elections. Voters under the age of 30 should reflect that elected officials know which demographics vote. Why does Pennsylvania underfund state universities while not taxing retirement income? Because students vote a lot less than retirees. If there is ever a time, this is the year for younger voters to show they know and care what their government does. As the article goes on to show, “young voter turnout could make the difference in 2018.”]

By Tara Golshan, Vox, Jul 18, 2018

Millennials are pretty reliable Democrats, but unreliable voters.

Democrats are winning over younger voters by huge numbers, but as a highly contentious, voter turnout-dependent midterm election inches closer, there’s a serious question of whether these young Democrats will come to the polls.

A recently released poll from the Public Religion Research Institute and the Atlantic conducted in June showed only 28 percent of young adults ages 18 to 29 say they are “absolutely certain” they’ll vote in midterms, compared to 74 percent of seniors.

In a year when Democrats are hoping an energized base can deliver them massive gains in Congress — and possibly the majority in one or both chambers — this poll, on its face, should give Democrats some pause.

Of course, this is only one poll. There are other surveys with varied results; a recent poll conducted by the Associated Press and University of Chicago’s NORC found that 32 percent of young voters would certainly vote and 56 percent were likely to. Another poll by Cosmopolitan magazine and SurveyMonkey found that 48 percent of young voters were “absolutely certain” they’d vote in the midterms.

And it’s actually a big improvement for Democrats compared to past midterms….

keep reading and see links at Vox

Governor Wolf supports a special session for redistricting

reply to constituents, 7/11/18

Thank you for contacting me regarding a special session for redistricting. I believe that the commonwealth’s greatest resource is its citizens, and you have proven that in your dedication to the issues that matter to you.

Pennsylvania needs a government that restores faith in the fundamental notion that our democracy still works. Even before I had the honor of being elected Governor, I supported removing politics from redistricting, as well as a true independent commission to draw Pennsylvania’s lines. Though bills have advanced in the legislature to address this issue, I urge leaders in the General Assembly to come together to finalize a compromise before the end of the month. If they do, I am ready to call a special session for a vote on a consensus, bipartisan redistricting reform proposal.

Time is of the essence. I have always been committed to fair process and continue to be ready and willing to work with the House and Senate to truly reform our system. To this end, I urge you to contact your representative and senator to tell them to address this issue. The General Assembly must take action so that Pennsylvanians can have a fair system.

I hope that you will continue to be an example of responsibility and engaged citizenry for all. To learn more about how I am making a new way forward for Pennsylvania, please feel free to visit www.governor.pa.gov, follow me on Twitter at @GovernorTomWolf, and visit my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/governorwolf.

Sincerely,

TOM WOLF
Governor

Ask Gov Wolf to call special session to end gerrymandering in PA

Fair Districts PA (you can sign a petition there)

State lawmakers left unfinished business when they recessed for the summer. They didn’t pass (or even hold a vote on) a bill that would end gerrymandering in Pennsylvania by amending our state Constitution to put in place a state legislative and congressional redistricting process that is independent, fair and transparent.

Join Fair Districts PA in asking Governor Wolf to call a special session on redistricting starting July 9.

The special session would allow the bipartisan prime sponsors of Senate Bill 22, House Bill 722 and House Bill 2402 to propose their bills again – bills that garnered more co-sponsors and support than any other legislation introduced this session. The bills would include all the best new safeguards, negotiated provisions and a new nonpartisan failsafe.

This critical reform could pass if legislators come back AND we continue to focus public attention and pressure on the process.

We cannot afford to delay action for another decade. Write and call Governor Wolf today.

To learn more, please read Fair Districts PA’s open letter to Governor Wolf.