Category Archives: Voting & districts

East Marlborough supervisors adopt resolution to end gerrymandering

by Matt Freeman, Daily Local News, 6/12/17

East marlborough >> A large crowd burst into prolonged applause Monday night as the East Marlborough Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to support an end to gerrymandering.

Before the vote, the supervisors listened to comments on the topic from local representatives of Fair Districts PA, a group that opposes gerrymandering, the practice of a dominant political party’s drawing voting districts to create an electoral advantage.

Area residents Edward Blanchard, Basil Maas, and Ron Whitaker spoke for the local chapter of Fair Districts PA, making the case for legislation moving through the state House and Senate to put future redistricting in the hands of an independent commission.

Blanchard said the effort was a bipartisan, grassroots movement. “We the people value our vote,” he said.

Maas said the assembled crowd and general support for an independent redistricting body suggested the supervisors should support the effort too. “This seems like a pretty compelling thing,” he said….

read more at Daily Local News

Redistricting

The Brennan Center for Justice

The redrawing of district boundaries every 10 years is designed to ensure that Congress and state legislatures are representative. But all too often, redistricting is not used by elected officials to safeguard electoral fairness, but to manipulate boundaries and stack the deck in favor of a political party or incumbent candidates.

This is called gerrymandering and it is a big problem in America. Gerrymandering impacts communities across the country. Underrepresented minority communities are often hit the hardest when redistricting dilutes their political influence and makes it hard to gain a foothold in our democracy.

With technology now making it possible to draw maps with highly accurate precision, the result is a political system where most electoral battles are fought in primaries and elected officials more and more seem to cater to the partisan extremes that dominate those contests. It’s no wonder then that citizens are left feeling increasingly that their votes — and voices — do not matter.

The Brennan Center supports reforming the redistricting process so that it is independent, transparent, and ensures that communities are fully and fairly represented in Congress and the nation’s legislative bodies.

See more at The Brennan Center for Justice including download of a May 9 study “Extreme Maps.” Summary:

Using data from the 2012, 2014, and 2016 election cycles, Extreme Maps finds that partisan bias resulting largely from the worst gerrymandering abuses in just a few battleground states provides Republicans a durable advantage of 16-17 seats in the current Congress, representing a significant portion of the 24 seats Democrats would need to gain control of the House in 2020. These “extreme maps” were all drawn in states under single-party control; the report finds that conversely, maps drawn by independent commissions, courts, or split-party state governments had significantly less partisan bias in their maps.

from the Executive Summary:

…Michigan, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania consistently have the most extreme levels of partisan bias. Collectively, the distortion in their maps has accounted for seven to ten extra Republican seats in each of the three elections since the 2011 redistricting…

Dem turnout surge marks 2017 primary election

According to data presented by Bill Schoell at the 5/25/17 executive committee meeting, Democratic voters voted this year in much greater numbers than in the previous two off-year (non-presidential, non-gubernatorial) primary elections. The increase from 2013 to 2017 (Dems who voted as a % of registered Dems) was about 90%! (2017 figures are unofficial, 2013 and 2015 official.)

Highlights:

About 18% of Dems in the County voted in 2017, compared to 17% of R’s. This is a significant reversal of the usual D lag in turnout. Coupled with Hillary Clinton’s 25,000 margin in the County in November, this trend is very encouraging.

R voters cast more total ballots this year, by 1,869, but that is a lot less of an edge than one would expect from the R registration advantage of 19,352.

Of course Dems need to close that registration gap, but it is significant that R voters, after a long slow decline, now makes up only 44% of registrations, compared to about 38.5% for D’s and 17.5% I’s. I’s don’t vote much in primaries but the almost 60,000 of them can be a big factor in the fall… if they vote then.

Download the underlying spreadsheet here: Primary 2017 Chesco reg + turnout BSchoell

Democrats see massive turnout boost in primaries

By Mike McGann, The Times of Chester County, 5/17/17

Tuesday’s primaries settled a handful of races, while setting the stage for the fall election battles, as Democratic turnout was noticeably higher than seen in the same primary four years ago — in part because of high profile primaries for the West Chester Mayoral seat, as well as a hotly contested District Justice race in the Kennett/Unionville area.

While more Republicans cast more ballots in 2017 than in 2013 by a 25,594-22,727 margin, it was Democrats who saw a dramatic spike, going from just 12,402 ballots cast in 2013 to 23,725 this year. Although the GOP maintains a 19,000 advantage in registered voters, Democratic voter activation in what is typically the lowest attended Election Day suggests that the fall county row races may well be in play for the first time in more than a generation, as the county’s independent voters typically do not split evenly between GOP and Democrat support, typically favoring the latter….

keep reading at The Times of Chester County