How heavy is gerrymandering in Pennsylvania? Slide for yourself.
We’re talking about the practice of manipulating district lines when it’s time to reapportion them to favor particular parties or causes. District boundaries in Pennsylvania have seen dramatic shifts in recent years. Per recent research, PA is experiencing enough population loss to drop a congressional district (and therefore an electoral vote) come 2020. That’s already drawing concerns for the next reapportionment.
Carol Kuniholm is the chair of Fair Districts PA, which is hosting an event about redistricting tonight at Arch Street United Methodist Church. Kuniholm traces these changes in U.S. Congressional Districts to the Redistricting Majority Project, commonly known as RedMap, a Republican push to promote GOP majorities in statehouses.
Carol Kuniholm of Fair Districts PA will speak about redistricting, how gerrymandering undermines democracy and what you can do to help. Learn about Fair District PA's plan to reform redistricting in Pennsylvania and how recent Federal court decisions and changes in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court impact that. There will be time afterward for Q & A and organizing as a regional group.
Where: Arch Street United Methodist Church at 55 N. Broad St.
When: January 25, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
How much: Free
The incredibly oddly-drawn districts have “been a problem the whole time, but in 2010, it became much much more of one,” Kuniholm said. As reapportionment comes with the release of new Census tallies, RedMap’s efforts focused on influencing what maps would look in 2011 and 2012. “We’re one of the few of large swing states left, so we’re a great target for that effort.”
The Pennsylvania Constitution has tighter rules on redistricting for the state House and the state Senate that discourage the breaking up of local jurisdictions and promote compactness. But our congressional districts, while drawn by our state legislature, follow looser restrictions laid out in the U.S. Constitution. Some of Pennsylvania’s current congressional districts are notoriously oddly-shaped, the like Seventh District, which encompasses parts of Delaware, Chester and Montgomery counties — as well as decidedly rural Lancaster County, too. This district has earned the nickname “Goofy Kicking Donald Duck.”
Mapping for state House and Senate districts has been controversial too. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court scrapped the 2011 boundaries on the basis that too many towns had been split, ordering them to be redrawn.
Kuniholm, who will be speaking tonight, told Billy Penn that Fair District PA’s database and following has grown 200 percent since the November election. “Our volunteer base has grown beyond that,” she added. “We’ve gotten 1,000 new followers this week on Facebook.”
Kuniholm explained that innovations in tech make it easier to recarve districts along party lines. “The danger is the demographic shifts in recent years,” she also noted.
What have the changes looked like over time? Use the slider tool to see how Pennsylvania’s districts have changed over the last quarter century
US Congressional Districts, from ’92 to today
PA House districts, from ’91 to today
PA Senate districts, from ’91 to today