Last week I attended a forum in Carlisle regarding Pennsylvania’s current voter redistricting law.
It was a very good forum and many comments were made about the current process that Pennsylvania employs regarding voter redistricting.
Everyone in the room, regardless of political party, felt the need that Pennsylvanians deserve a better, more fair method of establishing voting precincts. Both major political parties have been guilty of unfairly drawing up some of our voting districts. The sad thing is that the current law allows for this to happen.
There are currently two pieces of legislation in the state Legislature that will hopefully be considered — House Bill 722 and Senate Bill 22. Both of these bills have bipartisan support and provide a reasonable solution to the voter redistricting issue. I also want to say that the six state reps and three state senators who serve Cumberland County, as well as our two Congressional representatives who serve Cumberland County, are not to blame. The current problem was not initiated by these folks, but we will need their help and their colleagues’ help in order to change the law and improve the redistricting process.
One thing that I mentioned at the forum is that the state of Iowa appears to have it right regarding its voter redistricting law. I cannot cover in this letter all of the criteria used in Iowa, but its voting boundaries are drawn by a nonpartisan advisory body and a bipartisan advisory committee, both maintained by statute. They are required to adhere to population and geographical guidelines only; political considerations are not allowed.
Iowa state legislators must sign off on the new maps, but the lawmakers are not directly involved in the design of the map. If House Bill 722 or Senate Bill 22 are not successful in Pennsylvania, I respectfully ask our state lawmakers to consider the process that the state of Iowa follows. It works!
As a lifelong Republican, I am very concerned about the upcoming voter redistricting that will occur after the 2020 census. If Pennsylvania doesn’t change its current process of voter redistricting, the Democratic Party, which now controls the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court, will likely use the existing law to its advantage next time around. Here we go again, back and forth.
No matter what political party is in control in Pennsylvania, the same process will continue under current law. The cycle needs to be broken. The law needs to be changed. Republicans, Democrats and citizens of other parties deserve a fair redistricting resolution.
If done right, it may increase the number of people who vote, which leads to greater representation and better government. Is this really too much to ask?