YES, Voters care about fair districts and are willing to sign a petition in support.
More than 400 volunteers from across the state showed up on Election Day to talk to voters and invite them to sign petitions in support of an independent redistricting commission. Some put in a shift near home before or after work. Others gave an entire day to travel several counties away and help expand our reach in regions where we need to grow. In all, volunteers spent time at 85 targeted polling places in 27 counties. In parking lots outside fire houses, rec centers, churches and township buildings, volunteers answered questions, explained the word “gerrymandering” and encouraged voters to check out our website.
A growing number of voters are aware of gerrymandering, although many are still happy to hear an explanation. Many seem pessimistic about the possibility of change but love the idea of a responsive, accountable legislature representing reasonably drawn districts. Some say - with no explanation at all - “You bet I’ll sign!” while others want details, definitions and materials to consider. In some places, committee members from both parties signed and wanted to hear more. In others, candidates who showed up to hand out materials engaged with volunteers with good questions and interesting perspectives. In all, over 12,000 voters signed our petition.
Voters who engaged often shared frustrations about promised solutions that never seem to happen. Property taxes weigh heavily in some places. Roads and bridges were another recurrent theme. “Do they listen to us at all?” one voter asked sadly. Glitches with new voting machines claimed the focus at some polling places, but many voters, once started on the topic of electoral districts, had much to say and lots of reasonable questions. Why would a congressional district run from Hazleton to York? Why would a senatorial district cross the Susquehanna River from Lebanon through Dauphin to Cumberland counties? Why do the districts keep getting stranger? Is there really a way to fix it?
At local polling places, there’s little evidence of the partisan rancor that dominates the national stage. Neighbors greet each other, share tables and coffee and discuss the weather and local concerns. When we talk, we find most of us want the same things: a functional economy, jobs for our children and grandchildren, less strident political discourse, electoral systems that ensure our votes are counted and our communities are represented.
Thank you to all who embrace that vision and to all willing to generously invest time in helping it become reality.
There are over 7,000 polls in our state, so chances are you didn’t see a Fair Districts PA volunteer at yours. But you can still be part of the effort to end gerrymandering in Pennsylvania and make your vote count!