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Pennsylvania’s population only grew 2.4 percent over the last decade even as the state’s population hit 13 million, new Census data shows.

“While this process has historically been conducted behind closed doors with little to no public input, 2021 is our year to flip the script and ensure that the voices of our communities, particularly those of Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, Pacific Islander, and other communities of color, are at the center of the conversation,” said Khalif Ali, executive director of Common Cause in Pennsylvania.

Census in Pa.: What the latest figures mean for legislative and congressional seats J.D. Prose Pennsylvania State Capital Bureau SKIP The Census data drop that occurred Thursday now sets the clock in motion for legislative and congressional redistricting decisions that will draw from the population gains in eastern Pennsylvania and losses in the west.

Common Cause Pennsylvania executive director Khalif Ali said in a statement that it is time to “flip the script” and heed the voices Black, Latinx, Asian and other minority communities. “When redistricting is fair, transparent, and includes everyone, our maps are more likely to be representative and secure, free, fair and responsive elections for the next decade,” Ali said.

After years of attempting to get lawmakers to change how state legislative and congressional districts are drawn, redistricting reform advocates had to drop attempts to have political maps drawn by an independent commission.

After years of attempting to get lawmakers to change how state legislative and congressional districts are drawn, redistricting reform advocates had to drop attempts to have political maps drawn by an independent commission.

The committees and commissions responsible for redrawing Pennsylvania’s legislative and Congressional maps — a task that will determine and guide the political order of the next decade in Washington and Harrisburg — are set to make significant progress this week in their work.

The first of the hearings in Harrisburg will be held at 2 p.m. Tuesday, and feature presentations from advocacy leaders and experts including Common Cause of Pennsylvania Executive Director Khalif Ali, Fair District PA Chair Carol Kuniholm and Temple University’s Lee Hachadoorian.

One by one, a who’s who of Pennsylvania’s most well-known redistricting advocates told Harrisburg leaders what they’d been waiting years to say in a public hearing: that they’ll be watching — and will do everything in their power — to ensure that once Congressional maps are drawn in the next few months, there won’t be any partisan parlor games, backroom deals or funky boundaries.

Khalif Ali, executive director of Common Cause Pennsylvania, recommended that lawmakers start from a blank map, disregarding any existing boundaries and building their own based on public testimony. It might take longer to create, he said, “but we believe that the time spent will result in a map that will be far more representative to the people of the Commonwealth.” Could this practice disadvantage current incumbents? Sure, but protecting incumbents shouldn’t be the goal of redistricting, Mr. Ali said.

When leaders of Pennsylvania’s legislature convene in the next few months to draw the state’s new Congressional maps, they will hold a series of public hearings and solicit input from the public using a new website, Republican lawmakers said Monday.

“We look forward to working with members of both parties — and, most importantly, Black, Latinx, Asian/Pacific Islander, Indigenous, and other communities of color who have historically been left out of the redistricting process — to ensure that everyone in Pennsylvania has an equal opportunity to be represented by someone who shares their values and lived experience,” Executive Director Khalif Ali said. “As part of that work, we will be supporting communities in presenting testimony and drawing maps that allow them to tell their story.”

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