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Pennsylvania doesn’t need politicians making legislative districts: Letter to the editor

Posted 2/21/18

Article 2, Section 16 of Pennsylvania’s Constitution says in part that legislative districts “shall be composed of compact and contiguous territory as nearly equal in population as …

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Pennsylvania doesn’t need politicians making legislative districts: Letter to the editor

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Article 2, Section 16 of Pennsylvania’s Constitution says in part that legislative districts “shall be composed of compact and contiguous territory as nearly equal in population as practicable. …Unless absolutely necessary, no county, city, incorporated town, borough, township or ward shall be divided in forming either a senatorial or representative district.” 

In 2010, the U.S. Census was conducted (every 10 years) and Pennsylvania politicians drew the boundary lines for legislative districts. In 2011, a very small swath of Middletown (Oak Hill Drive, Vine Street, and east) was represented by a state representative from Lancaster County. The remainder of Middletown was represented by John Payne.

I testified at a joint hearing of the House and Senate state government committee in June 2011 and one legislator asked me, “What is wrong with having two state representatives for Middletown?”

After the elections in 2012, 2014 and 2016, the maps drawn by the politicians for the U.S. House of Representative seats in Pennsylvania had the same final result — 13 for one political party and five for the other. One political party made up about 50 percent of persons voting yet received only 28 percent of the total available seats. The politicians have not released how they drew the lines after the 2010 Census so I would conjecture that boundaries were drawn based on voter registration.

Because of the recent state Supreme Court ruling, only congressional maps for the 2018 election will be redrawn. After the 2018 congressional election, politicians will continue to draw the maps.

Another Census is approaching in 2020. We still have politicians drawing the boundary lines. Sen. Mike Folmer can call for hearings on Senate Bill 22 to explore the many excellent questions he has on how a citizen panel drawing maps could function in Pennsylvania. A similar Pennsylvania House Bill, 722, is a bipartisan proposal that should be released from Rep. Daryl Metcalfe’s house state government committee.

Democracy means voters choose their politicians. Current Pennsylvania law lets politicians choose their voters. Pennsylvania needs an impartial, independent citizen commission to direct the process — not politicians drawing their own district lines. For more information, see www.fairdistrictspa.com

Don Hossler

Middletown