With so much of the national—and state—spotlight on fair elections, everyone here at Pennsylvanians for Fair Elections wanted to ensure that you were keeping redistricting reform efforts on your radar.
Here in Pennsylvania, Sen. Lisa Boscola is one of a handful of lawmakers on the forefront of redistricting reform in the Keystone State.
To stay updated on the issue, bookmark a recently launched webpage on her website—one devoted entirely to the subject of creating an independent citizens commission.
She is also currently seeking co-sponsors for an associated bill. Here’s more from Sen. Boscola’s website:
In the near future, we intend to introduce legislation that will amend our state’s constitution to reform the way that legislative and congressional districts in Pennsylvania are re-drawn.
For our government to work as it is intended, it must contain checks and balances. Yet our state’s current system empowers lawmakers to draw the very districts that they represent. This constitutes a troubling conflict of interest, and we must address it before the next round of redistricting is triggered in 2020.
This joint resolution provides for a Redistricting Commission that is solely comprised of independent citizens. Individuals that apply to serve would go through a process for appointment that includes a series of random selections by lot.
Based on statewide voter registration numbers, this independent citizens’ Commission will be comprised of:
4 individuals registered with the largest political party in the state;
4 individuals registered with the second-largest political party in the state; and
3 individuals with affiliations that are not of either of the two largest parties.
Under the legislation, the Commission is required to develop a preliminary plan for Congressional and state legislative districts. After a series of public hearings across the state, the Commission will either approve or disapprove of the plan. In order for a plan to be approved, it must receive seven votes, with at least one vote coming from each of the Commission’s subgroups.
The state of California authorized a similar commission in 2008 with the authority to conduct legislative and congressional redistricting. Independent citizen-based commissions have been upheld in states such as Arizona, while incumbent-drawn maps continue to be challenged across the country. The aim of this bill is to produce a redistricting process in our Commonwealth that truly reflects the essence of our democracy – voters selecting their representatives, not the other way around.
This bill is similar to Senator Boscola’s SB 484 of the previous session. We invite you to join as a co-sponsor. Please call Julie Carraghan at 787-4236 in Senator Boscola’s office, or Christine Zubeck at 787-6123 in Senator Scavello’s office, with questions.