By Amy Friedman
Nearly 500 people attended an educational presentation about gerrymandering in Philadelphia on January 25. The goal of the event was to encourage members of the public to join in the effort to attain reform via a PA constitutional amendment. Carol Kuniholm of Fair Districts PA made a powerful argument that PA needs an impartial, nonpolitical citizens redistricting committee to fix our gerrymandered congressional districts.
Gerrymandering = the manipulation of district lines or boundaries to benefit one party or group. A map of our current state districts reflects the inequities of such manipulation (see below). 42% of PA voters have lost faith in any political party. In gerrymandered districts, we tend to see a lack of opposing candidates, so we have more of an Incumbent Protection System, rather than an Active Democracy.
Several credible electoral reform assessments have noted dire problems in Pennsylvania, in comparison to all other states. Our highly manipulated district pattern in PA leads to gridlock in state government, and to physical districts that don’t make geographical sense. Our state districts reflect partisan interests, to a higher degree than most other states.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: Head to FairDistrictsPA.com. Join by typing in your name and address. There are regular meetings, and working parties are being set up all over the state. There are working parties for specific neighborhood areas, like northwest or west Philadelphia. Check out FairDistricPA’s slideshow on gerrymandering.
You can also visit the Action Toolkit page, which offers tips on writing letters, as well as other suggestions and resources to help ensure a fairer redistricting process for Pennsylvania.
My TAKE: This is a compelling issue! It’s a problem on our doorstep, and it makes our Commonwealth of Pennsylvania legislature shamefully partisan and dysfunctional, and our voting system potentially discriminatory. This is an organization that will reward your participation with knowledge, avenues for involvement, and an innately worthwhile cause.