Check out the new Congressional District Maps for Pennsylvania!

new pa map
 JARED WHALEN
The new congressional map released Monday by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court, when the politicians in Harrisburg were unable to agree on a new map that adhered to the Court’s ruling, had redistricting expert Nathaniel Persily, a Stanford University law professor, draw the new Congressional District map for Pennsylvania. This is intended to go in effect immediately, and candidates for these districts will be voted on in the spring primary and November election; winners to be sworn in to office in January 2019. On first glance, it looks like all of the Upper Perkiomen Valley may be in the newly drawn 4th District. (If you are not convinced by PhillyNews’ map below, check out PennLive – enlarge the “District 7 becomes District 6 (sort of) map where you can see East Greenville, Pennsburg, Red Hill, and Green Lane in District 4.)

However, bear in mind that Republican legislators are expected to challenge the new map in Federal Court this week.

oldandnewmap
SOURCE: Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania – graphic by PhillyNews staff

Local Districts Under the Supreme Court Plan

Local congressional districts under the old 2011 map drawn by Pennsylvania’s Republican-led legislature split 28 counties into several districts, including Montgomery County, which had parts of the Second, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, and 13th Districts. The new map released on Monday by the state Supreme Court, which invalidated the the 2011 map, centers Montgomery County in the Fourth District. Only 13 counties are split in the new plan, and Bucks, Chester, and Delaware Counties are each entirely within a single district.

Under the court’s redrawn map, districts more closely align with county lines, and only 13 counties are split among two or three districts. By contrast, under the last map, enacted by the legislature in 2011, more than twice as many counties were split among multiple districts.

In striking down that map last month as unconstitutional, the justices said the new districts should be as compact and contiguous as possible. Their new map, they wrote in an order, is “superior or comparable” to proposals submitted by the participants and interested groups during the legal challenge that led to the historic ruling.

Read the rest of the article  Pa. gerrymandering case: State Supreme Court releases new congressional map for 2018 elections by Jonathan Lai & Liz Navratil, STAFF WRITERS

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2018 PA Congressional Districts and Election

This is one of those times when there is too much news, and even more confusion than usual. As of today, a new Pennsylvania congressional district map is due to be available on Monday, February 19, 2018. Since Governor Wolf has rejected the GOP plan, it goes to the state Supreme Court to decide on the map. The Washington Post’s website has an excellent article (with graphics) comparing the different proposed maps, and explaining why neither map would closely represent the Democratic party’s statewide vote share; Here’s how Pennsylvania Democrats’ congressional map proposal stacks up against the current Republican ones. 

If you don’t have time to read the article, here’s an excerpt;

It’s also worth noting that the districts in the Democratic map are just a hair more compact than the latest Republican-drawn districts. Sprawling, un-compact districts are often an indicator that some degree of partisan shenanigans were involved in the boundary drawing. That’s why the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has stated that compactness should be a key criteria in how the new districts are ultimately drawn.

The court is under no obligation to accept either the Democratic or Republican maps. But it is likely to take them under consideration as it works with a third-party redistricting expert, Nathaniel Persily of Stanford University, to draw a final, nonpartisan map. Then, following the 2020 Census, the entire redistricting process will start again.

Due to the uncertainty surrounding district lines, it was necessary to change the dates and deadlines for petitions to get candidates on the primary ballot. Pennsylvania congressional candidates can begin collecting signatures on Tuesday, February 27, 2018 – signatures must come from within the new congressional district. Petitions must be notarized and delivered to the county courthouse by Tuesday, March 20, 2018.

The deadline to register to vote in the PA primary election this year is Monday, April 16, 2018. Pennsylvania hold “closed primaries” which means only registered Democrats may vote in the primary for those on the Democratic side of the ballot (and registered Republicans vote for Republicans in the primary). The Pennsylvania primary election is Tuesday, May 15, 2018; polls are open from 7 a.m. – 8 p.m.

FAIR Districts Pa Events (end gerrymandering movement)

Several local informational events have been scheduled by and for FAIR Districts PA, who will talking about gerrymandering (drawing congressional and state house district lines based on party voter registration to restrict/deny competitive races); How To Make Your Vote Count. 

New comers and current members are welcome!
Join FDPA Montgomery County for a presentation about gerrymandering in Pennsylvania and learn about the ways you can help reform the redistricting process. There will be a brief presentation and then, based on attendance and interest areas, we will break into 2 to 5 groups. This will be a great way to meet other members in your district. You will learn about the various ways we are engaging legislators and the media to draw attention to the need for redistricting reform.

Lansdale Public Library (301 Vine St, Lansdale, PA)  – Wednesday, September 20, 2017; 7 p.m.

Pottstown Public Library (500 E High St, Pottstown, PA) – Tuesday, September 26, 2017; 7 p.m.

Upper Perkiomen Valley Library (350 Main St, Red Hill, PA) – Wednesday, September 27, 2017; 7 p.m.

While the current occupant of the White House and the members of the Republican Party in Congress have record low approval ratings, and current predictions and polling show Democrats getting the majority of the votes in 2018 midterm elections, it is still quite possible that the Republicans will retain control of the House due to gerrymandered districts. This is why the districts were drawn and why it is so important to both win state house races (in most states, the state legislature draws the district lines every 10 years, after the census count) and to revisit and change who and how congressional districts are created.

Check out these articles; Democrats are projected to win more than 54% of the vote in the 2018 House elections, but only pick up 12 seats thanks to heavily gerrymandered Congressional districts. and this New Yorker article and book review about how, while gerrymandering has always been around to some degree, the Republicans took it to an all new, unprecedented level of distortion and contortion (which accounts for the most bizarre looking districts crossing county lines and dividing neighborhoods); Drawing the Line: How redistricting turned America from blue to red.

 

 

Joan R Update on Local Activism

I (Joan) urge everyone to attend any meeting that includes a speaker from Fair Districts PA. Their volunteer speakers explain gerrymandering in very understandable ways, with appropriate detail, and then the speaker outlines what Fair Districts PA  (FDPA) is proposing. This is an issue that must be dealt with in the near future (due to the 2020 census coming up), so there IS some urgency to this, as well as importance. (There will be a meeting in Collegeville at Ursinus College, 601 E. Main Street, on Monday, April 3, 2017 at 7 p.m. Fair Districts PA speaker Dr. Mark Schafer will discuss the history of gerrymandering in PA, its impacts on various communities, and Fair District PA’s proposed plan for redistricting reform. )
Huddles are grassroots groups, that, to my knowledge, were spawned by Indivisible.com (a good website to visit!). One huddle I’ve attended is in the outskirts of Phoenixville and they (FB private group is called “Mountain Movers of Chester and Montgomery Counties”) organized a FDPA speaker to speak at a Pottstown church. This was very successful 35 people were in attendance. They are planning other events, contacting politicians etc, and they have a bus hired for the 4/29/17Climate Change and Justice march in DC. –> Call me at 215 234 9138 ASAP if you want me to find out if there are any $40 seats left – there MAY still be room.
There IS another huddle I’ve heard of but  not yet attended any mtgs or any of their events. Their FB page is also private: “Indivisible Mid-Montgomery County”. They were meeting in Schwenksville I heard, but I have no confirmation of that. (One can also put in one’s zip code at Indivisible.com and discover public groups within 5, 20, 0r 50 miles.)
Also, I have my name on the primary ballot in Upper Frederick for the “Inspector of Elections” position. A small role, but, if any of our members lives in Upper Frederick, would you please ask them to vote for me (Joan Rosiak)?
guest blogger – Joan Rosiak