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Voter Advocates Urge PA Senate Leader To Reform Redistricting Process

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Toby Short (right) reads a statement outside Jake Corman's office in Bellefonte on Thursday.

Fair Districts PA delivered postcards collected from constituents to State Senator Jake Corman’s office in Bellefonte on Thursday, urging the Republican majority leader to to pass legislation to reform the redistricting process in Pennsylvania.

About 25 members and supporters of Fair Districts PA gathered in the parking lot outside Corman’s office with over 500 postcards stapled onto a giant board.

“The districting process in Pennsylvania is rigged and we need to stop that,” said Toby Short, a volunteer for the advocacy group.

He said all the postcards come from constituents urging Corman to stop partisan gerrymandering and support a reform bill in the State Senate.

Every 10 years, states go through a redistricting process after the U.S. Census.

In Pennsylvania, the state General Assembly controls this process, and in 2011, Republicans held the House, Senate, and governors office.

In June, the League of Women Voters filed a lawsuit against the commonwealth, alleging gerrymandering.

The lawsuit claims the map Pennsylvania lawmakers created is a partisan gerrymander that violates the equal protection clause of the state’s constitution. Republicans are accused of intentionally drawing district boundaries that pack as many Democrats in as few districts as possible and then disperse the remainder over as many districts as possible. The effect, ultimately, diluting Democrats’ votes.

Similar gerrymandering charges have been lobbed against Democrats in Maryland.

In the last three elections for U.S. House of Representatives, Republicans won 13 of Pennsylvania’s 18 seats, even though registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by more than 800,000 voters statewide.

National models for identifying gerrymandering have found Pennsylvania to be among the worst offenders in the United States.

Senator Corman cancelled a meeting with Fair Districts PA on Thursday, saying he was advised by legal counsel not to discuss the issue as long as the lawsuit is underway, although he’s not mentioned by name in the litigation.

As the Senate Majority Leader, Corman is in line to be one of the five legislators to redraw district lines in Pennsylvania after the 2020 census.

Find this report and others at the site of our partner, Keystone Crossroads