Four Considerations for Fair Mapping

Dear Legislative Reapportionment Committee, Thank you for taking on the very difficult task of redistricting. With all the publicity surrounding it this year, the public realizes that there is no one perfect map. Nevertheless, some maps are much better than others, and I’m hoping you will aim high. To that end, I’d like to make these points: —The existing House and Senate maps are so extremely gerrymandered that they should be disregarded entirely. Any attempt to preserve the “core” of existing districts (and thereby secure a particular legislator’s seat) will inevitably distort the whole process. Start from scratch, please. Pretend the maps are being drawn for the first time. —The statewide hearings that have occurred so far are fine and dandy, and they help create the impression of transparency in the redistricting process. However, “transparency” may easily deteriorate into a buzzword. If the Democratic and Republican caucuses put forward separate maps with no indication of who has actually drawn them (local staff members? national political operatives? secret think tanks?), real transparency will be lost. Moreover, any map should come with an explanation of the priorities that were chosen and the tradeoffs that were considered. —Like gerrymandering, racial equity has become a hot topic, and it’s a complicated issue. Please consider holding at least one hearing focused on the question of how redistricting should address racial equity. —Real consideration, not lip service, should be given to sample maps submitted by the public, especially by organizations like Fair Districts PA that have been working on redistricting issues for years. Any map ultimately adopted by the Committee should be AT LEAST AS GOOD as the sample maps. When you’ve been shown a good map, there’s no excuse for producing an inferior one. Thanks again for your hard work and dedication to this important undertaking.