Reapportionment of PA House
I live in Bala Cynwyd in the 148th PA house district . I have lived in this district over 25 years. I am a white, middle class, suburban woman but I care deeply about proper representation for all people especially those of color and frontline communities. I have concerns about the overall House district map. A quick glance at the current district map indicates significant gerrymandering. Here are my seven recommendations for how to improve the redistricting map to make it better reflect the reality of PA. o The 203 districts/representatives create an unwieldy State House that is too large to get work done effectively. If the entire population of the United States is composed of 435 districts, why should the PA house have about 46% of the total of districts United States? This vast number of districts also gives too much power to the rural areas of Pennsylvania, especially given their recent population loss. o The maps that were redrawn in 2018 were meant to be proportional in terms of our overall population voting tendencies. While this was a step in the right direction we did not achieve this goal completely because the Republicans continue to have a geographic advantage since the Democrats tend to concentrate in urban areas. This allows districts to be cracked and packed which dilutes the voices of urban communities. o I am concerned about diluting the voices of urban communities, especially for communities of color that tend to be concentrated in urban communities. o When people of color are all packed into the same district, they get a representative, but their power is diluted. This may sound counter intuitive, but it is not for the following reason: When districts are packed with a supermajority of people of color, their voices are limited to just those few districts, leading to far less representation overall. o Many studies have shown that more racially diverse districts lead to people of color having more voice. When a district that is made up of greater than one-third of a specific race, then there is a good opportunity for a person of that "specific" race to represent the district. o Black, Hispanic/Latinx, Asian and even White populations should not be divided into other districts. so that they are only a token of the overall population. o Black, Hispanic/Latinx should not be packed unnecessarily into a few districts. o Determining the districts especially in Philadelphia, Reading, Pittsburgh, and the Lehigh Valley Give needs special attention to give equitable representation to blacks and Hispanics/Latinx communities. o Local voting precincts should be kept intact. School districts in Montgomery County should be kept intact as a district. This is not the case now. o Districts should be drawn in such a way that the shape isn't crazy o There has been a population shift away from central, northern, and western parts of the state and toward the suburban metropolitan areas particularly of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Therefore the districts need to reflect the current reality with fewer seats where they lost population and appropriating more seats to the metropolitan areas particularly suburban Allegany County, Philadelphia and the five collar counties around Philadelphia. o Redistricting should not prioritize keeping incumbents in office. It would be better to start with a clean slate to make the district maps. o This could mean that two incumbent officials run against each other but that could be an effective way for the voters to choose who represent them. o It might also provide the opportunity for new candidates to emerge. Thank you for allowing me to the opportunity to provide comments and for your attention to these concerns.