Fair Districts PA is a nonpartisan, all-volunteer, citizen-led statewide coalition working to create a redistricting process that is transparent and impartial. Voters across the nation are rising up against “gerrymandering:” the manipulation of voting lines to cut one group or another out of political representation. Never before has gerrymandering so effectively undermined our democratic institutions, partly due to new technologies for re-mapping districts to advantage one party over another.
Democracy means one person, one vote — that basis for fairness is under attack. Gerrymandering neutralizes many votes as incumbents run unopposed, discouraging turnout because the outcome is rigged. Winning elections preempts effective governance. Extremism flourishes rather than legislative deliberation and compromise. Both parties do it.
Whatever our political affiliation, we need to be concerned. Witness a statewide movement in Pennsylvania to create a nonpartisan redistricting commission for both congressional and state legislative redistricting.
Members would be chosen at random from lists of citizen-applicants meeting criteria set by the Pennsylvania Legislature and excluding lobbyists and government officials. Passage of two bills is critical by 2020, coinciding with the federal census and the drawing of new district lines in 2021.
HB 23 would create an independent redistricting commission to draw the state’s congressional lines. HB 22 would initiate a state constitutional amendment allowing legislative districts to be drawn by the same commission, as the state Constitution specifies. Failure would leave no chance for another shot until the 2030 census!
We are asking Meadville City Council to pass a resolution tonight in favor of Fair Districts. We need to protect the Democratic process and exercise common sense locally.
District 6 is currently gerrymandered to include towns in Erie County and dividing Meadville from communities like Cochranton and Conneaut Lake that share our infrastructure and recreation funding issues. Crawford Central is broken up among three state reps! One state legislator is currently responsible not for one school district but six partial ones.
Do we really want local needs to be lost in the shuffle of fragmented decision-making, ultimately controlled by party bosses who can gerrymander uncooperative reps right out of their seats?