Looking at the Pennsylvania congressional districts only a naïve individual cannot see that we have been gerrymandered beyond all legitimate reasoning. Instead of some computerized process, which itself can be bias, I am proposing a simple “legitimacy test” based on the greatest length and narrowest width of congressional districts. Sorry, but I know this will sound very nerdy.
Looking at the 11th District of Congressman Barletta, we find the district is about 145 miles long but only 6 miles wide at its narrowest spot. This result in a length to width ratio of 145:6, or 24:1. Folks complain about how gerrymandered District 11 is, but there are more extreme examples.
Congressman Cartwright’s 17th district is about 90 miles at it longest by a mere 1.1 miles near Wilkes-Barre and Scranton. This gives a ratio of 90:1.1, or 82:1.
The most egregious example seems to be Congressman Cartwright’s 7th district which is 56 miles between its two furthest points but has a 1,700-foot waist at the Brandywine Hospital, a 730-foot narrowing near Fort Washington, and a 480-foot (or 0.091 mile) “eye of the needle” on the PA Turnpike just west of the King of Prussia exit. The ratio here is 56 miles to 0.091 miles or 615:1! Put another way, if you are doing 65 mph on I-76 you will enter and leave the 7th District in 5 seconds.
In the interest of fairer voter representation I propose legislation be passed to require the maximum and minimum distances between the furthest two boundary points and narrowest two points in all congressional districts be a ratio of no more than 25:1. I would prefer something closer to 10:1 but our mountains and rivers do stretch things along our Commonwealth’s beautiful geographic features.