— article by State Senator Daylin Leach, reprinted from the Philadelphia Jewish Voice , 2006.
Voters no longer choose their politicians; instead, politicians choose their voters when they draw the district lines. I have been leading the fight to take the politics out of redistricting.
Redistricting has become a tool used by legislative leaders to ensure that elections are never competitive. As you know, the constitution requires that political boundaries are redrawn every 10 years to reflect population shifts. In recent years, politicians of both parties have become increasingly blatant about drawing these lines to ensure that there are as few genuinely competitive districts as possible. As a result, 95 percent of us live in districts where our vote essentially does not count because those who drew the lines have already decided which party will win.
More after the jump.
Current Pa. congressional districts by party.
Though gerrymandering has been a growing problem for centuries, new technology has made it increasingly effective. Let me explain how this works. Say there are two adjacent legislative districts, both of which typically divide their vote evenly between the Democratic and Republican parties. When the next redistricting comes around, the party leadership of both parties will make a deal to swap precincts so that instead of two 50-50 districts, the new map will have one district that is 70-30 Republican and the other that is 70-30 Democratic. People still walk to the polls on election day, but everyone knows who will win before the first vote is counted.
Iowa has actually passed similar reform. As a result, four out of five of Iowa’s congressional districts are competitive. That is more competitive districts than there are in Pennsylvania, New York and California combined. That state’s legislative races are similarly competitive.
The powers that be in both parties oppose this bill because it takes power out of their hands. The only way that reform will ever happen is if there is a public outcry demanding it.