Local and State Progress on Gerrymandering in PA

Katie Phillips Active + Engaged Residents, Advocacy, Programs

UPDATE 6/15/18: Please see our latest statement on redistricting reform efforts in Pennsylvania for the most recent information and our current position on redistricting legislation.

Last Wednesday (11/8/17) Allegheny County Council passed a motion in support of fair redistricting 10-4. We were excited to see our local council step up and advocate for legislative districts that fairly represent the voices of the people of Pennsylvania.

In addition, the issue of gerrymandering continues to gain momentum on a state level. On Thursday, the PA Supreme Court ordered that the Congressional districts gerrymandering case be heard in court. The case, brought by the League of Women Voters, challenges the existing congressional district maps in PA, as the plaintiffs argue that the way they are drawn violates voters’ constitutional rights. The PA Supreme Court set an expedited decision deadline of Dec. 31 for the case, meaning that, if the plaintiffs win and the maps are deemed unconstitutional, the congressional districts could be redrawn prior to the 2018 midterm elections.

PA congressional districts are currently drawn through a partisan process. They are not set to be redrawn until 2022, following the completion of the 2020 United States Census. The win in this case is a huge step forward in the fight for equitable legislative districts, as it is an acknowledgement of how unfair our districts are currently.

Fair Districts PA has been working to end gerrymandering since 2016. They are advocating for the establishment of an independent redistricting commission that won’t allow our legislative districts to be influenced by the motivations of the majority party. They hope to achieve this through PA House Bill 722 and PA Senate Bill 22. On October 26, two more state representatives signed on as co-sponsors of PA House Bill 722.

As we prepare for the 2018 mid-term election, it is important that we remain attentive to the issue of gerrymandering. Without equitable legislative districts, the integrity of our elections and our elected representatives is compromised. Follow Fair Districts PAand stay tuned to our Facebook page for updates about this important issue and for ways to get involved.