Common Cause Pennsylvania Condemns Congressional Redistricting Plan

Press Center

For Immediate Release


December 14, 2011

Barry Kauffman, Executive Director

(717) 232-9951, or

Common Cause Pennsylvania Condemns Congressional Redistricting Plan

“This congressional redistricting plan is breathtakingly brazen in its defiance of the interests of Pennsylvania’s voters” said Common Cause/PA Executive Director, Barry Kauffman, upon the Senate State Government Committee’s vote to approve the congressional redistricting plan (SB-1249) that will be in place for the coming decade. Calling the plan the “ultimate in political cynicism” the bill abandons any pretense of maintaining congressional districts as communities of interest.

The plan unveiled today features a district (CD 7) that meanders bizarrely through five southeastern counties resembling the mythological three-headed dog that guards the gates of Hades. Another (CD 15) stretches from the Delaware River (Bethlehem and Allentown areas) to the Susquehanna River (just south of Harrisburg) following close to the I-78 and I-81 corridors; while another reaches from the Delaware even deeper into the Allegheny mountains (CD 10). One western Pennsylvania district, resembling an emaciated hammerhead shark, reaches from the Ohio border to Johnstown.

Common Cause/PA noted that the legislature has had the census data, on which the redistricting plan is based, since the beginning of April, but did not release its proposed plan until December 14th. The legislature could easily have developed the new congressional district plan by the end July, put it out for 60 days of public comments and public hearings, and still passed it before the end of October. Instead, with the date for candidates to circulate nominating petitions looming just six weeks away, the bill will move forward on the legislative fast track, with no public hearing on the plan, and no meaningful opportunity for interested citizens and community leaders to review the plan and attempt to improve it during its one week of legislative life.

While states likes Iowa, California and Arizona have moved forward to take redistricting out of the hands of self-interested politicians whose principal goals are to create a gerrymandered advantage for their parties and to protect incumbent lawmakers from the voters, Pennsylvania’s system remains the ultimate incumbency protection program. Several senators even noted that Pennsylvania’s system manifests an abuse of power regardless of which party is in charge. “If Pennsylvanians ever hope to take back control of their government” said Kauffman, “we must reform our system for drawing legislative and congressional district boundaries. This plan is a clear-cut case of politicians picking their voters in order to prevent voters from having a meaningful opportunity to pick their elected officials”