We can stop partisan gerrymandering in Pennsylvania for good by changing the redistricting process.
Appoint an impartial, independent citizens commission to direct the process—not politicians drawing their own district lines. States that have put citizen commissions in place have seen improvements in representation, competitiveness, and voter trust.
To make this a reality, we have to change the PA constitution. Here’s what it will take:
That’s no easy task, but once a fair-districts policy gets to voters, they tend to approve it by huge margins.
In other words, we can do this. But we need your help to put the pressure on Harrisburg to make it happen.
A truly independent redistricting commission is one that limits the direct participation of elected officials. Currently, Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana, and Washington all have independent commissions of one form or another.
The number of commission members in Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana, and Washington ranges from 5 to 14, with 5 being the most common. Some analysts say the more members the better to promote diversity and make it harder for a few members to hijack the process. Arizona and California call for an equal number of Republicans and Democrats on the commission, with the rest coming from other parties or voters not registered with any party.
We suggest a commission of 11 members - 4 Democrats, 4 Republicans, and 3 not affiliated with either party - selected at random by the Pennsylvania Secretary of State from three pools of qualified candidates.
In Pennsylvania, changing the way redistricting is handled means changing the state Constitution. But, constitutional amendments are kept short and don’t go into lengthy administrative details.
Implementing legislation is a better way to handle the details that spell out how an independent citizens commission would be set up and administered. They would be written into a bill introduced in the General Assembly like any other bill. This eliminates the need for brevity, and a regular bill can be more easily changed than a constitutional amendment, if revisions become necessary.
The 11-member independent commission would be in charge of both legislative and congressional redistricting. The commission would be charged with analyzing U.S. Census data, drawing district maps, and preparing a preliminary redistricting plan. We suggest holding at least four public hearings in locations across the state, with ample opportunity for public input, before adopting a final plan.