Reject the Nordenberg Map

I write in opposition to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives map proposed by Chairman Mark Nordenberg and favored by the Democrats on the Legislative Reapportionment Commission (LRC). This map not only isn’t fair it was drawn to help House Democrats take back the majority. Don’t let Nordenberg try and fool us into thinking that his process has been a fair and bipartisan exercise. The Princeton Gerrymandering Project gives his map an “F” for competitiveness. The citizens mapping tool Dave’s Redistricting App estimates that the Nordenberg map will give House Democrats a legislative majority of 106 seats, dramatically more than their current total of 90 seats. How does the Nordenberg map go from 90 Democrats to 106? By tipping the scales. Under Nordenberg’s map, 14 House Republicans have been put into the same district to run against each other while just two House Democrats have been. Let’s not kid ourselves, this fall when LRC commission member Joanna McClinton was asked at the PA Press Club how she plans to get back in the majority she had a one word answer: “Reapportionment.” Since they haven’t been able to achieve a Democratic majority at the ballot box, the goal of McClinton, Nordenberg and the Democrats is to use a partisan gerrymandering process to tip the scales to accomplish their goal. The Nordenberg map is unconstitutional. The Pennsylvania Constitution states “unless absolutely necessary, no county, city, incorporated town, borough, township or ward shall be divided” in creating a legislative district. Under the Nordenberg map Harrisburg, Lancaster, State College, Reading, Allentown and Scranton are all divided or “split.” Is it “absolutely necessary” to split these six cites and why does Nordenberg split them? The simple answer is this is a flagrant attempt by Nordenberg to spread Democratic voters across more districts to win more seats. As the only Latino running for Governor of Pennsylvania, I’m concerned that the Nordenberg map will impact the opportunities for Latinos to get elected to the House. There are more than 1 million Latinos living in Pennsylvania. We are now the third-largest racial or ethnic group. Dividing heavily populated Latino cities such as Allentown, Reading and Lancaster into multiple districts limits the opportunities to elect Latinos. In my home county of Cumberland in order to pick up a Democrat seat Nordenberg got creative and has an incumbent Democratic state representative from Harrisburg City crossing the Susquehanna River picking up East Pennsboro Township, Camp Hill and Lemoyne thereby creating a heavily Democratic seat. These communities have greatly different needs and issues. Furthermore, to make his map work, Nordenberg “split” Mechanicsburg borough into two districts. Reapportionment is guided by three basic principles: competition, compact districts and population equity. Unfortunately, Nordenberg failed with all three. The Nordenberg map is 27% less competitive than the current districts. His map is 28% less compact than the current map based on the Polsby-Popper and Reock scales. On population equity, the state constitution mandates that each district have approximately the same number of residents. The U. S. Supreme Court accepted deviation from this standard is 5% over or under the ideal population size and 10% for the overall map. The Nordenberg map comes in at 9.28%, barely making the 10% deviation standard creating an expansive inequity in district populations Finally, as the constitution states, legislative maps should not split towns and take away community interests. When they do, liberal districts in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh have a stronger voice than the rest of the state. Voters go to the polls to vote for candidates not lines on map. Reject the Nordenberg map. Develop a map that is fair and constitutional.