Better Maps Yield More Responsive Representation

With the election this past week, it’s clear to us that the last seven years of work by Fair Districts PA and our partners has resulted in districts more representative to the state as a whole.

The Fair Districts anti-gerrymandering campaign got tangible results. It is clear from the November 2022 election results for the Pennsylvania General Assembly that new, much fairer House districts energized new candidates and new campaigns and led to amazing midterm turnout.

We know there are many reasons for the energy this past Tuesday, but we also know the outcome would have been far different if not for our work on better maps. And each and every one of us who signed a petition, talked to their representative or wrote a letter to the editor can take credit for that.

The House map in use in the past decade locked in an average 15 extra Republican seats in a hypothetical 50-50 election. The new map decided on earlier this year was predicted to shift toward 5 extra Republican seats in that hypothetical election. That seems about what happened, yielding an outcome much closer to the down-ballot vote share.

At this point, the tentative tally for the PA House is 101 Democratic seats, and 100 Republican seats, with two districts still too close to call. It’s possible that some of the others seats could shift as provisional and overseas ballots are counted and undated ballot litigation plays out. Even once the districts themselves are decided, there are questions about House majority as the session begins, since three districts will need special elections sometime after the session begins. As NBC reports:

The scenario has legal and procedural experts bracing for what could be a protracted stalemate over control in early January, and puzzling over the implications if McClinton were to be elected speaker on the strength of votes from two members who then immediately resigned.

The close races and uncertainty about leadership could also open the door to House leadership interest in rethinking legislative rules. In a recent interview, FDPA Chair Carol Kuniholm and Susan Grobesk of The League of Women Voters went into further detail about the possibilities that may lie ahead for the balance of power in the General Assembly.

Whatever the outcome, we’re celebrating the sense among voters of all ages that our votes really mattered. We have much work still to do, but we’ve taken a large step forward toward a more accountable legislature and more responsive representation.