Common Cause PA Makes the Case for Fair and Transparent Redistricting to Legislative Committee

Posted on August 18, 2016

Pennsylvania’s House State Government Committee accepted comments from the public on redistricting in the state. In Pennsylvania, a commission of senior legislators draws General Assembly districts while the entire General Assembly is responsible for approving a congressional map after each census. In written comments, Common Cause Pennsylvania Senior Advisor and Fair Districts PA Co-Chair Barry Kauffman urged committee members to support HB-1835, a bill that would create an independent citizen redistricting commission to draw districts using nonpartisan standards.

Kauffman stated that this reform bill “recognizes that legislative and congressional districts are owned by the citizens of Pennsylvania – not any individual party, not any individual official, not any individual candidate” and that it addresses “the deepening concerns of people across Pennsylvania, and across our nation, that their representative democracy is slipping away from them.” 

The written comments also outline the ways in which HB-1835 adheres to Fair Districts PA’s redistricting principles, which state that the process must:

·         Adhere to all constitutional and Voting Rights Act requirements;

·         Ensure that all State House, State Senate, and Congressional districts be as nearly equal in population as possible; and be within a constitutionally established range of deviation;

·         Respect the boundaries of established political subdivisions, and not divide them unless absolutely necessary to achieve other constitutional mandates;

·         Encourage geographical compactness, as provided by constitutionally mandated standards of deviation, and demonstrate respect for natural geographical features and barriers; and

·         Prohibit districts from being drawn for the purpose of favoring or discriminating against any political party or candidate.


The comments conclude on a historical note:

For more than half a century, presidents have complained about this blight on our body politic.  From Kennedy and Obama to Nixon, Reagan and Bush (the first), our presidents have urged redistricting reform.  And now leaders of Pennsylvania’s counties, municipalities, and prominent organizations are joining the chorus to restore faith in our government.  We must provide the kind of competitive elections that are essential to properly functioning government and public policies that represent and support the best interests of the people.

We urge you to provide the leadership necessary to make this fundamental reform a reality.  Let’s finally fix the system to ensure that no political party can misuse it, and so that it truly serves the peoples’ interest in accountable representative government.  Thank you.


Read the entire statement.

Office: Common Cause Pennsylvania

Issues: Voting and Elections

Tags: Redistricting

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