Letter from Melissa Shusterman (Dem candidate for PA House 157), Tredyffrin Patch, Jan 9, 2018
Gerrymandering has been in the news a lot lately. What is it, and why is it such a problem? How can we fix it?
Every 10 years, a census is taken to determine the population of each state. After this determination, states must redraw their federal and state legislative districts in a process called redistricting or reapportionment. States do this to ostensibly ensure their citizens receive the equal representation they deserve in their state and the federal government. Accordingly, the intent is to make sure that each congressman, state senator and state representative have about the same number of people in their districts and that the districts don’t unnecessarily split up communities. Gerrymandering is a perversion of this process. Gerrymandering is the manipulation of district boundaries to best benefit a political party instead of citizens.
Gerrymandering is rampant in our country. Most states allow the legislature to draw district boundaries in any way they want, leading to the main consideration is how many seats can be won, to ensure that the party in power stays in power, instead of how to give Americans the representation they deserve in government. Gerrymandering allows politicians to pick their voters instead of allowing voters to pick their politicians and circumvent popular will. In 2012, Democratic Congressional candidates won 1.5 million more votes than Republicans, yet fell far short of a majority in the House….
keep reading at Tredyffrin Patch
Mark Scolforo (AP), The Morning Call (Allentown PA), 1/8/18
HARRISBURG — Registered Democratic voters suing to overturn Pennsylvania’s Republican-crafted map of congressional districts asked the state Supreme Court in a new filing to redraw the district borders if the Legislature and governor can’t do it within a two-week window.
The plaintiffs outlined their arguments in a 76-page brief filed Friday with the state Supreme Court, ahead of oral argument s planned for Jan. 17.
They suggested the court give lawmakers and Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf two weeks to redraw lines using nonpartisan criteria, then review the map with the help of a court-appointed special master to make additional changes. If that process does not work, they suggest the justices and the special master adopt their own map.
Republican legislative leaders and Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf face a Wednesday deadline to respond.
At stake in the case is whether the high court, with a 5-2 Democratic majority, will follow a recommendation made by a lower court judge about a week ago and reject the challengers’ argument that the map violates existing law by unfairly favoring Republicans.
The challengers argued that the state’s map of 18 congressional districts is among the most partisan in American history, saying it has proven to be “impervious to the will of voters.”
They said legislative Republicans “sought to predetermine the outcome of congressional elections for a decade” with the map, accusing them of retaliating against constitutionally protected political expression and association….
keep reading at The Morning Call
from Fair Districts PA; sign the petition here:
The United States is the only major democracy that allows politicians to choose their voters by drawing electoral district lines. This is a conflict of interest that undermines the integrity of our elections.
There is a solution—and our legislators have the power to do something about it: Enact House Bill 722 and Senate Bill 22! These bipartisan redistricting reform bills are designed to stop gerrymandering in PA by putting an independent citizens commission in charge of redistricting.
By any measure, Pennsylvania is one of the most gerrymandered states in the country. We are ALL harmed by lack of choice at the polls and an unresponsive, unaccountable legislature.
Until we fix this structural flaw in our electoral process, our votes won’t count and our legislators will continue to pay more attention to outside interests than to the people of Pennsylvania.
Sign the petition now to ask your legislators to support these bills. Then share it with your family, friends and networks.
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!).]