EFFORTS TO END GERRYMANDERING CONTINUE
A little background on the problem: At this time Pennsylvania is near the very bottom of electoral fairness. In a PA House legislative proposal for HB 722, April 2017, the situation was detailed. "According to a recent study by the Electoral Integrity Project (EIP), Pennsylvania ranks third worst in the nation for the fairness of its electoral boundaries -- only Wisconsin and North Carolina scored worse. When politicians manipulate district lines to benefit themselves and their parties, the public always loses."
Every 10 years voting districts are redrawn according to census data which makes this year critical.
Redistricting as it is now in Pennsylvania
The state House and Senate maps are a different story than that of the Congressional process. They are drawn by a five-member commission made up of Democratic and Republican leaders from the legislature as well as a chair picked by those lawmakers or, if they can’t agree, the state Supreme Court. That process is enshrined in the state constitution, making it a lot tougher to change than a simple law.
Critics of Pennsylvania’s redistricting system have long focused on who draws the maps as the most important area in need of reform. But experts from the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School have argued that just as important are the rules for how it’s done.
Current Legislation Under Consideration
The Legislative and Congressional Redistricting Act (LACRA)
is currently under consideration. See our Calendar Page for a Town Hall Meeting on HB 2638 and SB 1242 introduced by Representative Wendi Thomas and Senator Killion respectively.
The bill is designed to ensure transparency in the redistricting process and to provide significant opportunities for public participation. It also introduces enforceable mapping criteria essential to real accountability.
If the legislature acts before the end of January, and Gov. Tom Wolf signs off, the new rules would be in place when lawmakers begin drawing the legislative and congressional maps next year.
Fair Districts PA is a nonpartisan, citizen-led statewide coalition working to create a process for redistricting that is transparent, impartial, and fair. For complete coverage of the effort, visit <http://www.fairdistrictspa.com>.
Note: A number of PA municipalities have passed resolutions supporting the effort to make redistricting fair.
KEY LEGISLATIVE INITIATIVES
LANGUISHING IN THE SENATE, A BILL TO PROTECT VOTING RIGHTS
HR1, For the People Act 2019 has been languising in the Senate since September 2019 when the bill was passed by the House and sent to the Senate. Senate Democrats have crafted their version of HR1 which is similar in most aspects but has a few minor differences. HOWEVER, Speaker McConnell has declared that he will not bring this bill to the floor. PERIOD. Senate Democrats are understandably frustrated and are attempting to garner support from their Republican colleagues.
What's in HR1, For the People Act 2019?
HRI, For the People Act 2019 is a package of voting reforms aimed at guaranteeing voting rights for all citizens.