Tag Archives: gerrymandering

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.

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.

These 8th graders solved gerrymandering

from Christina Hartman, a Dem candidate in CD-16, Feb 11, 2018

In West Chester, PA, teacher Jon Kimmel introduced his 8th-grade math students to the concept of gerrymandering. I want you to read their response:

“My students, getting their first taste (of the subject), were amazed at the audacity, flabbergasted at what this meant about democracy, and more than a little amused at the stupidity of adults,” Kimmel wrote in an essay recently.

“In a little over two weeks of class time,” the teacher wrote, “indeed, the group of eighth graders did do a better job than the Legislature.”

Now, compare that to the reaction of Republicans to our Supreme Court striking down their rigged maps:

— Republican members of Congress, including my opponent Lloyd Smucker, signed a letter saying the decision to draw fair maps was “unfortunate” and “misguided.”

— Smucker then went on TV and said the current rigged district maps are just “the process is essentially working as intended.”

— PA legislator Cris Dush accused Supreme Court members of “misbehavior” and called for their impeachment! (It’s like Tom Brady wanting the referee fired for calling the Super Bowl for the Eagles.)

Our campaign is about more than flipping one district or replacing one congressman. It’s about getting back to the kind of common sense that exists in that 8th-grade classroom — but not in Congress.

It’s about honestly making your case to voters instead of rigging the process in your favor. It’s about being 100% transparent, and meeting constituents face-to-face, even if they disagree with you.

I’m hopeful that the new maps will ensure a level playing field, and not favor either party. In the meantime, we need to prepare for every possibility.

[n.b. at this point in the election cycle we post occasional items by or from candidates that inform our readers about important issues; we will give space to all candidates from whom we receive such information, without intending to imply endorsement or favoritism.]

Surprise: R leaders were working on a map after all

While appealing to one of their ideological allies on the US Supreme Court and making noises about trying to impeach the majority of PA Supreme Court justices for upholding the state constitution, Harrisburg R’s were designing a new congressional map on their own and came out with it hours before the Court was to take over the assignment.

See the proposed map below, from “GOP Releases Redrawn Maps” by Paul Engelkemier, PoliticsPA, 2/9/18. As you’ll see, it divides Chester County between districts 6 and 7, compared to the current division between 6, 7, and 16. District 6 would include parts of 3 counties (now 4), district 7 also parts of 3 (now 5), and district 16 parts of 2 (now 3):

Does the R map represent enough progress to serve as an interim arrangement until the next redistricting after the 2020 census? Governor Wolf, with expert advice, will either say Yes, or if he says No, the PA Supreme Court will take over. And in 2021, either the then majority in H’burg will try to work to its own advantage, or else the job will go to a citizen commission to ensure that objective, non-political principles are applied. In any case, let’s hope the days of gerrymandering our state are over for ever!

Underlying issue: How compact (the PA Supreme Court’s term) is compact enough? Ideally, a basically rectangular state would be divided in turn into rectangles or squares. Compare Iowa:

See also Amanda Holt’s Feb. 6 proposal (which for Chesco residents has the great merit of putting our whole county in one district):