The Problem

Democracy means voters choose their politicians. Current Pennsylvania law lets politicians choose their voters.

Here’s how things got backwards: Current PA law puts state legislators in charge of redistricting—the process of redrawing voting districts, which happens every 10 years to reflect population changes. (It happens next after the 2020 census.)

Letting legislators draw their own districts is a conflict of interest from the start, but there are many other ways it goes wrong:

Why we need redistricting reform in PA

The current process is redistricting gone wrong—a process driven by partisan politics, mapping technology, big data, and outside money.

The result is gerrymandering: the practice of manipulating voting districts to benefit parties, not people.

Gerrymandered districts give voters less voice and less choice, and we get polarization instead of problem-solving in Harrisburg and Washington. Here’s why:

Consider Pennsylvania’s 7th District. 60 years ago, it was a compact, logical shape. Now it’s a squiggle of lines contorting its way from Plymouth Meeting north of Philadelphia down to Kennett Square in Chester County, and then all the way over to parts of Lancaster County. (Its nickname: “Goofy kicking Donald.”) This is not a fair voting district.

PA's 7th Congressional District over time. (Source: Shapefiles maintained by Jeffrey B. Lewis, Brandon DeVine, Lincoln Pritcher, and Kenneth C. Martis, UCLA. Drawn to scale. Graphic: The Washington Post, May 20, 2014)
PA's 7th Congressional District over time. (Source: Shapefiles maintained by Jeffrey B. Lewis, Brandon DeVine, Lincoln Pritcher, and Kenneth C. Martis, UCLA. Drawn to scale. Graphic: The Washington Post, May 20, 2014)

 

It’s not just the 7th District. Wherever you live in Pennsylvania, you’re affected by gerrymandering.

See the maps

Gerrymandering even hurts politicians and parties

Even well-meaning politicians can’t do their jobs: They can’t represent spread-out communities with different needs and priorities, effectively maintain offices across wide geographic areas, or do the real work of governing: solving problems that affect us all.

Gerrymandering also allows outside money and influence to control parties’ agendas, and makes it easier for extremists to gain control of the party.

The good news: We can fix this

Gerrymandering is a tough problem, but we have a solution—and the momentum to make it happen. State legislators have already introduced bills in both the House and Senate that would establish an independent citizens commission charged with drawing fair district lines that reflect real communities and are free from partisan and financial influence. Now we need your help to turn these bills into law.

Learn about the solution

Tell your legislators