Pennsylvania is currently in the process of redrawing district lines that are used to elect representatives to the state Legislature. This is done by a Legislative Reapportionment Commission consisting of two Democratic and two Republican Party leaders in the state Legislature. In practice, the fifth member is named by the state Supreme Court. In the recent past, Republicans controlled the Supreme Court and, naturally, appointed a Republican partisan as the deciding vote. The results were heavily gerrymandered maps, with strangely shaped districts and many communities divided among different districts. For example, Lancaster Township’s nine precincts were split into four different legislative districts for the sole purpose of muting its strong Democratic vote.
In a state with approximately 600,000 more Democrats than Republicans, the Republican-controlled and contorted maps produced a Legislature with strong Republican majorities. That’s the undemocratic result of gerrymandering!
This year, Democrats control the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Instead of appointing a Democratic partisan to steamroll a Democrat-favored gerrymandered map, they appointed Mark Nordenberg, who, by all accounts, is more fair-minded than partisan and has conducted the business of the commission with unparalleled transparency and public input.
The commission has received and published numerous suggested maps from individuals and groups. The maps submitted by Fair Districts PA (Pennsylvania’s foremost voice lobbying for the end of gerrymandering) have done the best and fairest job of incorporating state law’s required criteria of compactness, contiguity, minimizing split counties, municipalities or precincts, and protection of communities of interest, including racial equity.
The commission should make history, use these maps and end gerrymandering.
Former chair of Lancaster County Democratic Committee