Recommendations for Drawing Congressional Districts: ‘Start From a Blank Map’
07.22.2021 / 1:30 PM
Common Cause Pennsylvania Executive Director Khalif Ali urges specific steps to ensure transparency, equity and bipartisanship
The Pennsylvania House Committee on State Government is holding a hearing for ‘stakeholder input’ on the process of drawing new Congressional District maps.
“We believe that redistricting should be fair, accessible, and politically neutral. Most importantly, we believe that to be successful, a redistricting process must intentionally seek to ensure that every Pennsylvanian, regardless of zip code, race, ethnicity, first language, or profession has an equal opportunity to elect a representative that shares their values and lived experience,” Common Cause Pennsylvania Executive Director Khalif Ali will tell the Committee.
“This redistricting cycle presents the opportunity to right the actual and perceived wrongs of previous congressional redistricting processes, both in 2011 and 2018,” Ali will testify. “To do that effectively, we strongly recommend that this committee disregard the existing district boundaries and builds the new map based on public testimony about where the boundaries of their communities are. This may mean that the map takes longer to create, but we believe that the time spent will result in a map that will be far more representative to the people of the Commonwealth.”
“From our perspective, the goal of the redistricting process should not be to protect (or punish) our incumbent elected officials. Instead, the goal should be to create a map that is truly representative of We the People of Pennsylvania. Further, we have faith that if a current elected congressperson is the best representative of the new district, the voters in the new district will continue to elect them,” Ali will say.
Ali will make other specific recommendations to the Committee, including that they:
- Provide accessible opportunities for meaningful public input;
- Ensure transparency in procurement
- Prioritize communities of interest as the building blocks of the map
- Establish clear mapping criteria in order of priority
Read his full testimony here.