Rep. Brad Roae wants politicians to pick their voters through a secret process. This goes against American beliefs in fairness and in government power being derived from the people.
State politicians are able to secretly decide which voters they want by moving district lines. Roae defends the process and argues districts created by this secret process are fair.
He says we can vote against legislators who create congressional districts with which we do not agree. We each have a vote, but Roae is hiding the ball. How?
First, voters aren’t allowed to know what factors politicians consider when determining how districts are drawn. In court recently, citizens asked how the General Assembly came up with district lines. Roae and his colleagues argued citizens aren’t entitled to that information. The court agreed. How do citizens know whether to vote against incumbent politicians when they make secret decisions?
Second, politicians guarantee their re-election by manipulating lines. Politicians move lines to include their supporters and remove opponents. They literally choose their voters. The power to vote out the politicians is an illusion when a secret system guarantees the result.
Roae believes a college professor will create the map. That's because he doesn’t trust us. He has been in office for too long if he thinks a random group of citizens don’t have common sense. Partisan gridlock is how the General Assembly and Congress work, not how people work.
Consider juries. Twelve strangers come together to make life or death decisions; decisions that belong with the people, not the government. In 94 percent of cases, those strangers are able to reach a unanimous decision. HB 722 does not require a unanimous decision; only 7 of 11.
In other states, citizens’ commissions work. Does Roae believe Pennsylvanians will fail where others have succeeded?
If you believe that government secrecy is good, that politicians should be able to guarantee their own re-elections, that partisan gridlock helps us, that politicians and bureaucrats are smarter than you, then you should agree with Roae. If not, you should demand that Reps. Parke Wentling, Kathy Rapp and Roae support HB 722, and Sen. Michele Brooks supports SB 22.
BRIAN T. CAGLE