Search Results for: redistricting

Riding the Redistricting Reform Roller Coaster in the Pa. General Assembly

The national census will take place in 2020. And then, the process of redrawing congressional and state legislative maps will go on in states across the country in 2021. Redistricting reform advocates had hoped for some guidance in this process from the U.S. Supreme Court, but in two recent cases, the court failed to opine on the constitutionality of partisan gerrymandering — the practice of drawing voting districts to benefit a particular political party — and instead, issued rulings on procedural grounds.

Just how the 2021 redistricting process will take place in Pennsylvania now depends on what happens in the state’s General Assembly within the next 10 days or so. In fact, advocates for redistricting reform in Pennsylvania have been riding a legislative roller coaster for months — and it continues to be a very bumpy ride. [Read more…]

The Clock Is Ticking on Redistricting Reform in Pennsylvania

Current Pennsylvania congressional district map, handed down by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

During the May 15 primary elections, Pennsylvania voters throughout the commonwealth will find themselves voting in different congressional districts than they have in the past. These new districts were created by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in a historic decision that struck down Pennsylvania’s 2011 district map on the grounds that it was unconstitutionally drawn to favor Republicans. The new Supreme Court map will be in effect for the 2018 elections and presumably the 2020 elections, but what happens after that? [Read more…]

Hearing on Independent Redistricting Commission

SB 22 is one step closer to a vote! Senator Folmer, chairman of the State Government Committee in the Pennsylvania Senate, has lived up to his promise to hold a hearing on Senate Bill 22: Independent Redistricting Commission. Join the advocacy group March On Harrisburg as we show up to show our support for SB 22, to put an end to gerrymandering in Pennsylvania.

We will be meeting in the cafeteria at the State Capitol at 8:30 a.m., and the hearing is expected to last from 9 to 11 a.m. Several other Senate bills will also be discussed during the public hearing. We will be carpooling from the Philadelphia area and other areas to Harrisburg that morning. Please reach out to us if you are looking for transportation.

The Mathematics of Redistricting

Dr. Moon Duchin is an associate professor of mathematics at Tufts University and the founder of the Metric Geometry and Gerrymandering Group.

AGENDA
3:00 – 4:00 p.m.   First Lecture: Gerrymandering and the Mathematics of Voting Rights
4:00 – 4:30 p.m.   Refreshments
4:30 – 5:30 p.m.   Second Lecture: Discrete Curvature in Redistricting and Group Theory

Seating is limited.
For more information, contact Ronald Perline at [email protected].

Justice and Gerrymandering: Faith Perspectives on Redistricting Reform

Fair Districts PA Chair Carol Kuniholm will discuss her own exploration of justice and love of neighbor, and the way that journey led to her involvement in redistricting reform. She’ll explain gerrymandering and its implications for the people of Pennsylvania and suggest ways for houses of worship to engage. This presentation, given in her home congregation, will be filmed for use in religious forums across the state.

This is a public event, and all are welcome to attend. The event is co-hosted by POWER (Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower & Rebuild) and by the Pennsylvania Council of Churches – Advocacy.

Redistricting Discussion With Gov. Wolf

You are invited to attend a non-partisan panel discussion on congressional redistricting, hosted by Gov. Tom Wolf. The governor will be joined on the panel by a representative of the Pennsylvania Department of State, as well as local experts on redistricting, including Carol Kuniholm, Chair of Fair Districts PA.

RSVP: If you are interested in attending, please RSVP to [email protected], and you will receive additional information, including the exact location of the event. Space is limited to 75, and RSVPs are required for attendance.

This event is a terrific opportunity to make your voice heard on redistricting.

Update on Redistricting Cases With Potential Pennsylvania Impact

The issue of partisan gerrymandering was on the docket during the first week in October, both in the U.S. Supreme Court and in courts in Pennsylvania. Partisan gerrymandering is the practice of intentionally drawing voting district lines in a way that benefits a particular political party. Here is a court-by-court update on the status of these gerrymandering cases.

In the U.S. Supreme Court

https://pixabay.com/en/supreme-court-building-usa-546279/

U.S. Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court heard oral argument in the Wisconsin redistricting case, Gill v. Whitford. Early news reports of the argument suggest the expected: the four liberal justices see the injustice of a gerrymander that denies people of the “wrong” party a meaningful right to vote. The four conservative justices may be willing to stay with the existing system, under which courts do not interfere with redistricting on the grounds that it is a “political” matter. Justice Kennedy, who is potentially the key swing vote, appeared to take the arguments by the plaintiffs seriously. Judgment in the case will take a while, likely emerging sometime during the present term, which lasts until the end of June 2018.   –Ken Myers
 

In the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania

The day before the Supreme Court heard oral argument in the Wisconsin case, another partisan gerrymandering case was filed in federal District Court in Philadelphia by five Pennsylvania citizens. Taking a different approach from the Wisconsin case, the Pennsylvania plaintiffs in Agre v. Wolf argue that the the partisan nature of Pennsylvania’s 2011 congressional district map violates the Elections Clause of the U.S. Constitution. They claim that even the attempt or intent to gerrymander is unconstitutional under this clause and that the court should require Pennsylvania to come up with a process of redistricting that has effective guarantees against partisan overreach.

As Raymond Solomon, one of the plaintiffs in the case, explained:

We’re not just looking for a new map, but a new process. California, Arizona, New Jersey and other states have shown that there can be neutral and fair processes that do not rig the outcomes in advance. We feel the U.S. House is the People’s House, and deciding who goes to the People’s House belongs to the people and not the politicians.

 

In the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania

At the state level, a hearing was held before Senior Judge Dan Pellegrini of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania in a partisan gerrymandering case brought by petitioners the League of Women Voters and individual voters from across the commonwealth. At issue in the hearing was whether this case should be delayed until the U.S. Supreme Court delivers its ruling in the Wisconsin case, as claimed by lawyers for the Pennsylvania General Assembly and its leaders.

The petitioners argue that a delay is not warranted because their case is based on the state constitution, not the federal one, and therefore, would not be governed by the Supreme Court’s ruling. They also emphasize that time is critical to prevent yet another election where the voices of Democratic voters are effectively silenced because their voting districts were drawn to secure Republican victories.

Judge Pellegrini said that even if he allows this case to proceed without waiting for the Supreme court’s ruling in the Wisconsin case, the judicial process will not be completed before the 2018 midterm elections. He did mention the option of a King’s Bench petition, which can potentially fast-track a case to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

When can we expect Judge Pellegrini to rule on whether he will delay the case or permit it to proceed in Commonwealth Court? David Gersch, one of the attorneys for the petitioners, believes the judge will issue his order within a few weeks.

 

Justice and Gerrymandering: Why Redistricting Reform Matters

Carol Kuniholm (chair and co-founder of Fair Districts PA) will explain the redistricting process and its impact on social policy in Pennsylvania with additional insights into New Jersey and national redistricting efforts. She will demonstrate how the current process undermines democracy, suggest a solution, and offer ideas on how all citizens can support and encourage change. After the presentation, participants will have the opportunity to break into small groups to learn more about what’s happening in their area and ways they can get involved.

All are welcome.

Please feel free to post our event flyer.

Please register.
Walk-ins accepted, but we might not have materials for you.

Supreme Court Stays Court-Ordered Texas Redistricting. What Does It Mean?

Original gerrymander cartoon by Elkanah Tisdale, "Boston Gazette," March 26, 1812.

Original gerrymander cartoon by Elkanah Tisdale, “Boston Gazette,” March 26, 1812.

The case challenging redistricting in Texas, Veasey v. Abbott, has been around since 2011. Congressional districts set after the 2010 census were alleged to be discriminatory against minorities and hence illegal under the federal Voting Rights Act. Plaintiffs won, and new districts were drawn and approved by the federal district court.

But in three elections since then, plaintiffs argue that the new districts have proven still to be discriminatory. The federal district court and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed and ordered the districts redrawn in time for the 2018 election. The case is now pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. [Read more…]

Lansdale – How to Make Your Vote Count: Redistricting in PA

New comers and current members are welcome!
Join FDPA Montgomery County for a presentation about gerrymandering in Pennsylvania and learn about the ways you can help reform the redistricting process. There will be a brief presentation and then, based on attendance and interest areas, we will break into a 2 to 5 groups. This will be a great way to meet other members in your district. You will learn about the various ways we are engaging legislators and the media to draw attention to the need for redistricting reform.