May 22, 2018
CONTACT: David Thornburgh
Committee of Seventy
President and CEO
(215) 439-0879 (c)
The Committee of Seventy applauds Senate State Government Committee Chairs Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon) and Anthony Williams (D-Philadelphia) and their Senate State Government Committee colleagues for voting to approve today a compromise proposal that improves the redistricting process in Pennsylvania.
This proposal represents significant improvement from the status quo. Elected officials themselves currently hold the pen for both the congressional and legislative maps. State law also allows for secretive partisan war rooms to draw maps that can be shared directly with and approved by these officials.
These pernicious practices would be made illegal by today’s amendment which was approved with bipartisan support. The proposal also compels bipartisan support of commission members, includes independent and third-party voters, limits the use of partisan data, and strengthens the rules around splitting political subdivisions.
Although Seventy believes the amendment can be improved further, we are cautiously optimistic that this is a step in the right direction. We urge our elected officials, fellow advocates and citizens across the Commonwealth to bear in mind that there is significant work left to be done. A constitutional amendment must be passed in both chambers before July 6 in order to be in effect for the 2021 redistricting process. Further, the enabling legislation that would prescribe important details in the implementation of a new redistricting process has yet to be introduced.
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The Committee of Seventy is an independent nonprofit advocate for better politics and better government in Philadelphia and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. For more information, see www.seventy.org.