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…]

A Tale of Two Bills in the Fight Against Gerrymandering in Pennsylvania

Senate Bill 22 and House Bill 722 were virtually identical when introduced last year in their respective chambers of the Pennsylvania General Assembly. They had bipartisan support and were drafted by legislators, policy staff and advocates for accountable government, with the goal of ending partisan gerrymandering — the intentional drawing of voting district lines to benefit a particular political party. So far, these bills have taken divergent paths: one, exemplifying how the democratic process should work, and the other, demonstrating what can happen when this process is hijacked by partisan politics. [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.

Over 1 Million Pennsylvanians Used Online Voter Registration

With all the focus lately on Pennsylvania’s congressional district map, an important electoral milestone may have been overlooked — which is that more than 1 million Pennsylvanians have now used the Wolf administration’s online voter registration (OVR) site. The system, launched in August 2015 by Gov. Wolf, has made it easier and more secure for citizens to register to vote and update their existing registrations. The 1 millionth user was from Delaware County. [Read more…]

On a Quest to End Gerrymandering and Make a “Good Map”

Anne Hanna.

They canvass. They lobby. They protest. Concerned citizens insert themselves into the political process on behalf of the public good in different ways. Anne Hanna, a Ph.D. student in mechanical engineering at Georgia Tech, became politically active in the best way she knew how: by using her computational and data analysis skills in the fight against partisan gerrymandering — a fight that is front-and-center in Pennsylvania right now. [Read more…]

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.

Unrigging Our Elections

Editor’s note: This article was written prior to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s ruling in League of Women Voters v. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, which was just handed down. In its opinion, the court held that Pennsylvania’s congressional district maps violate the state constitution. The ruling also requires that the maps be redrawn in time for the May 2018 primaries.

People who are concerned that elections in the U.S. are “rigged” should be thrilled with the wave of new court cases on partisan gerrymandering, which voice this contention, and even better, propose remedies for the problem. [Read more…]