Redistricting

Redistricting

Redistricting

The League of Women Voters believes responsibility for redistricting should be vested in an independent special commission, with a membership that reflects the diversity of the unit of government, including citizens at large, representatives of public interest groups, and members of minority groups.

Why it matters

Political and racial gerrymandering distorts and undermines representative democracy by allowing officials to select their voters rather than voters to elect their officials. When done for purposes of racial discrimination or to ensure the dominance of one political party, gerrymandering runs counter to equal voting rights for all eligible voters.

Watch the video - The Basic Math of Gerrymandering 

 

What we’re doing

Our League in conjunction with the State and National  supports apportionment and redistricting based substantially on population of all voting districts, with additional consideration given to compact and contiguous territory and with respect given to municipal boundaries. 

We are working closely with Fair Districts PA and the goal is to create an 11-member commission in charge of both legislative and congressional redistricting. It would be charged with analyzing U.S. Census data, drawing district maps, and preparing a redistricting plan. The commission would be required to hold public meetings across the state before maps were drawn, and again after to collect public feedback.

We are supporting the following bi-partisian legislation designed to create one independent citizens commission in time for the next round of congressional and legislative redistricting following the 2020 U.S. Census.

  • HB 22 would amend the PA Constitution to create an independent redistricting commission for both congressional and legislative redistricting.
  • HB 23 would create an independent commission just for congressional redistricting.

With passage of HB 23 in the 2019-20 session, selection and training of commissioners could happen in early 2021. Because amending the Constitution means passing a bill in consecutive two-year sessions followed by a voter referendum, the earliest voters could approve a new commission for legislative redistricting would be the May 2021 primary election. At that point, the already-in-place congressional redistricting commission would be given the additional task of legislative redistricting in time for a November 2021 deadline.

The Governor’s Redistricting Reform Commission held public hearings throughout Pennsylvania to gather testimony from citizens on their redistricting views. Our League was present and spoke at the hearing held in May 2019 in Philadelphia. The Commission report, released at the end of August 2019, is complete the report and links to supporting material is available here.

Consistently, the people of Pennsylvania heard by the Commission shared these strong preferences: 

Who Should Draw the Maps? • As much as possible, citizens, not politicians, should hold the pen that draws and revises election maps. 

What Criteria Should be Used? • The criteria and values by which the maps are drawn should be clear, consistent and accountable. 

How Should the Process Work? • The map-drawing process should be straightforward, open, and transparent.

The ideas in the report, like the ideas in current HB 22 and 23, add to the national conversation on a series of essential questions:

  • What selection process most effectively ensures the independence of a citizens commission?
  • What selection process can guarantee commission diversity and protection of minority points of view?
  • What values take precedence in determining district lines?
  • IS there an appropriate role for legislators in the process? Who should have the final say in approving maps?
  • What would a truly “accountable” process look like?

What can you do

For additional information contact League Member, Marita Green