PA Republicans Submit Equally Gerrymandered New Maps

But instead, a new set of maps has been introduced, and The Washington Post says they're "just as gerrymandered"(https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2018/02/11/pennsylvania-republicans-have-drawn-a-new-congressional-map-that-is-just-as-gerrymandered-as-the-old-one/?utm_term=.36e2752f7571) as the last maps. If you want to see how drawing lines in different ways can have different outcomes, see a new series called "The Atlas of Redistricting" by the analysts at FiveThirtyEight.com.

In a 137-page opinion issued last Wednesday, a divided state Supreme Court said Pennsylvania's 2011 redistricting plan was "aimed at achieving unfair partisan gain" and undermined "voters" ability to exercise their right to vote in free and "equal' elections".

Republicans submitted a map Friday, prepared by state Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, a Jefferson County Republican, and House Speaker Mike Turzai, an Allegheny County Republican. A court-drawn map would nearly certainly result in more Democratic-held seats-potentially as many as two to three more. Wolf has until Thursday to decide whether to accept the plan or reject it and leave it to the Supreme Court to decide how to redraw the congressional map.

The Supreme Court had also criticized the number of counties and municipalities split between multiple congressional districts. But because of the way district lines were carved, the black voting percentage was much lower - about 18 percent.

Take the three local congressional districts. It will not be used for a March 13 special election to fill a vacancy in southwestern Pennsylvania created by the resignation of Republican U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy. The Republican Party has dominating majorities in both chambers of the state Legislature, which normally controls the process of redrawing the congressional boundaries.

The governor and the Republican-controlled legislature did not appear any closer Tuesday to reaching an agreement on a new congressional map, which the court hopes to have in place for the May 15 primary.

Schuylkill County, meanwhile, moves wholly into the 11th District on the proposed map from its current home in the 17th District. "I wouldn't be stunned if there were four or five maps", said Madonna, director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs at Franklin & Marshall College, Lancaster.

Some of those lopsided results - such as in the 6th and 7th districts - are in Southeast Pennsylvania where the voter registration trend has been moving away from Republicans and towards Democrats.

"This is politics. He's reading from a prepared statement, this is a set-up", he said. With numbers like that, some counties will be split up, Leinbach said.

The filing in Benisek v. Lamone came roughly a week after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's ruling, a decision that legal experts say was long overdue.

In a letter to the state Supreme Court Tuesday, Wolf's lawyers said Scarnati and Turzai also had not complied with the court's order because the entire legislature had not voted on it.

Vanessa Coleman

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