Every 10 years, after each national census, the Pennsylvania Legislature redraws the boundaries of our Congressional, state House and state Senate districts. The original goal of redistricting was to ensure voting districts remain equal in population, so that every vote counts. But politicians manipulate that process for political advantage instead of fair representation. It’s time to put voters first.
Pennsylvania Redistricting Litigation
With that goal in mind, Common Cause helped to recruit plaintiffs and filed an amicus brief in League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania v. Pennsylvania a state constitutional challenge to Pennsylvania's congressional map. On January 22, 2018, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and ordered the drawing of new districts. On February 5, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the defendants' motion to stay the decision, which means that Pennsylvanians will vote in constitutional districts this year for the first time since legislators redrew the congressional map in 2011.
The next step requires the legislature to produce newly drawn maps by February 9 and receive approval from Governor Tom Wolf by February 15. If neither perform their duty and complete the task, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania will produce a map by February 19 and allow voters to elect candidates based upon those during the 2018 election cycle.
To support the plaintiffs, Common Cause filed an amicus brief and alternative maps to demonstrate to the court that maps can be drawn fairly in a way that puts voters first. See our maps below:
- Common Cause Map #1 (zoom in on Philadelphia and Pittsburgh)
- Common Cause Map #2 (zoom in on Philadelphia and Pittsburgh)
- Common Cause Map #3 (zoom in on Philadelphia and Pittsburgh)
Fair Districts PA
Fair Districts PA is a coalition of citizens and organizations working to ensure that political district maps are drawn in a fair and transparent way through a process that allows voters to choose their legislators rather than legislators choosing their voters. With leadership from Common Cause PA and the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania, groups from across the state have endorsed strong redistricting principles and passed resolutions in support of redistricting reform.
Because of political manipulation of electoral boundaries, very few of Pennsylvania's electoral districts are considered competitive. In fact, a growing number of PA candidates now run unopposed - many with no opposition in either the primary or general election. When candidates run unopposed their constituents lose the ability to hold them accountable.
The coalition has voted to endorse two companion bills, Senate Bill 484, introduced by Sen. Lisa Boscola (D-Lehigh County) and House Bill 1835, introduced by Rep. David Parker (R-Monroe County). Both bills would amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to establish an independent citizens redistricting commission with clear standards to ensure public input and a fair, non-partisan outcome.