Category Archives: Voting & districts

Governor Wolf Statement on Remedial Congressional Map from PA Supreme Court

Governor Wolf, February 19, 2018

Harrisburg, PA – Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf released the following statement on the new remedial congressional map ordered by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court:

“Over the last month, I have personally heard from thousands of Pennsylvanians and they are sick and tired of gerrymandering, which perpetuates gridlock, alienates citizens and stifles reform. I have stood for fairness and rejected a proposed map that was universally seen as another partisan gerrymander. I applaud the court for their decision and I respect their effort to remedy Pennsylvania’s unfair and unequal congressional elections.

“Now, my focus will be on making sure the Department of State can support our counties and all candidates in the election process, particularly during the petition period. My administration will work expeditiously to update Department of State systems and ensure all processes are in place to assist candidates for Congress.”

Here’s the new map, from ABC News:

The last-minute Republican leaders’ map split Chester County between 2 districts and put parts of 3 counties in the 6th district. The Supreme Court’s decision puts all of Chester County in the 6th, which is only fair atonement for the outgoing gerrymander, considering that the County has 5/7 of the population of one district. In fact, the map does a great job of keeping county splits to a minimum, both in SE PA and in the state as a whole.

Expectations of a Mapmaker

By Amanda, 18.Feb.2018

With the failure of the General Assembly and Governor to approve a map by the court deadline, it now falls to Nathaniel Persily to draw Pennsylvania’s next congressional map. This court-appointed special master is known for his skills as a mapmaker in other states. No matter how skilled, no one is perfect. How will we know if he gets it right in Pennsylvania?
Population Deviation

The court directive to keep counties and municipalities whole was clear. Strong constitutional language bans any splits that are not necessary. Federal courts provide states with some flexibility to district population so they may protect the boundaries of their local governments.

In some instances, by creating districts which vary slightly in population, counties and municipalities may stay whole which would otherwise be split. Pennsylvania law does not require mathematical equality. Federal law allows small deviations to avoid splits.

What does this mean? A split is not “absolutely necessary” when by using a small population variance the result would respect more local government boundaries than is possible by using no variance….

keep reading by Amanda

Plenty of room to move up in voter turnout

Chart from “U.S. trails most developed countries in voter turnout” by Drew DeSilver, Pew Research Center, 5/15/17:

U.S. turnout in November 2016 was 56% of the voting age population (blue dots in the chart), 59% of citizens who could have registered and voted, but 87% of registered voters (yellow dots in the chart), a criterion that puts the US much higher in international standings. According to census data, only 70% of voting-age US citizens are registered to vote.

Can the remaining 30% be encouraged to register and vote? Certainly efforts in many states are going the other way, due to intimidating voter ID measures. We are fortunate in Pennsylvania that Governor Wolf established, three years ago, on-line voter registration (deadline to register for this spring’s primary election: 4/16/18).

According to Department of State data, the turnout in November 2016 was 78% of registered voters in Chester County, so unfortunately we were well behind the 87% national average. Clinton won by 25,000 votes, but her margin would likely have been higher if more people had voted, because turnout tends to favor Democrats.

US census data show Chesco has 367,554 US citizens age 18+, of whom 268,800 voted for president in 2016, thus 73% (compared to US 59%, so that looks better for us). Because Voter Services data include many voters who no longer live here, this 73% is probably the most significant figure.

Thus 27% of eligible Chesco voters either were not registered to vote or were registered and did not vote.Those 27% are the challenge for 2018.

If you know someone who needs to be convinced to register and/or vote, see the arguments here and then go to work.

Governor Tom Wolf Rejects Partisan Gerrymandered Map

email from Governor Wolf, 2/13/18

I took a pledge that I would reject any map that is unfair or partisan gerrymandering — and that’s what this is. This map clearly seeks to benefit one political party.

Partisan gerrymandering weakens citizen power, promotes gridlock and stifles meaningful reform. It must be ended once and for all.

So I’m asking for your help to make it happen. Please, sign our petition to demand an end to gerrymandering

The current map — drawn by a Republican legislature and a Republican governor — unfairly divides our communities to benefit Republican political interests. And the map submitted to me just last week by Republican leaders was still gerrymandered.

It’s simple: gerrymandering hurts our democracy. That’s why I made a pledge to support fair maps that will restore our democratic process.

This is not a partisan issue. It’s about unrigging the system and drawing fair maps that are representative of the people, not politics.

I vow to do everything I can to make sure we fix our gerrymandered maps now and ensure that they stay that way in the future.

If you’re with me, please sign our petition today to end partisan gerrymandering.