Gov. Wolf announces new principles from Pa. Redistricting Advisory Council

Western PA News

Courtesy of PACast

HARRISBURG — On Wednesday, Governor Tom Wolf announced the Pennsylvania Redistricting Advisory Council is ready to take suggestions about drawing the next map of congressional voting districts.

Gov. Wolf said the Council has finalized a set of guiding principles of legal, representation and process recommendations to be considered when evaluating the fairness of a congressional redistricting map presented by the General Assembly.

“Our commonwealth and our nation were founded on the ideals that voters freely select their own elected leaders, not the opposite way around,” said Gov. Wolf. “The congressional districts that will be drawn by the General Assembly are key to that process.​.. The decision of whether to accept or veto the upcoming map will be one of my most important moments as governor and these principles will be crucial in guiding my review.”

The Council’s principles include:

Legal principles: to serve as a minimal floor of protection so districts have compact and contiguous territory that minimize as many divisions of political subdivisions as practicable.

  • Each district should be as nearly equal in population as practicable;
  • All territory within a district should connect to the rest of the district and disfavor a district with territory only connected at a narrow single point;
  • Provide geographic compactness unless dispersion is required to advance another positive districting principle;
  • Prioritize fewer subdivision splits unless necessary to preserve a cohesive–and clearly identified–community of interest;
  • Consider whether the Voting Rights Act requires the creation of proposed majority-minority districts.  

Principles of representation: to assure equal representation and fairness so a group’s power is not diluted as a check on partisan gerrymandering.

  • Maintain communities of interest,
  • Composition of the congressional delegation should be proportional to statewide voter preference;
  • Responsive to changing voter preference.

Principles of process: to help ensure a fair and transparent processes, the public should have an opportunity to provide input, comment, and participation on the map passed by the General Assembly.

  • The General Assembly’s proposed map should include an explanation of specific decisions, such as the communities of interest and how they were defined and the factors that led to the creation of a majority-minority districts.

The council met numerous times to develop the principles and held a series of eight in-person public listening sessions across the state as well as a virtual public listening session to take public feedback on the principles and the redistricting process.

In addition, the governor created a public comment portal to allow citizens to submit comments and draw their own proposed voting district and community of interest maps. All comments from the listening sessions and the public comment portal were evaluated by the council prior to deciding their principles.

Under state law, the legislature redraws the maps once every 10 years and passes a bill defining the new congressional district boundaries. These new boundaries take population shifts into account so congressional lawmakers represent a fair portion of the state’s population. Once the bill is passed, it is then considered by the governor.

To submit your own comments about the redistricting, click HERE.

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