Don't Shortchange the Southeast with Senate Maps

Dear Chairman Nordenberg and the LRC, I am a resident of Cheltenham. As a person of faith I care about fair and equitable maps in the Commonwealth because justice demands it. Furthermore, the health of our government and the ability of the legislature to meet the needs of ALL citizens depends on it. I would like to thank the LRC for your hard work and your efforts to improve the redistricting process. Thank you for holding hearings and making the process more transparent than in years past. I am especially grateful for your consideration and attention to racial equity and your decision to end the “prison gerrymander.” It is heartening to see maps that reflect the growth in communities of color and give minority voters more representation than in years past. All of us paying close attention to the final map release trust that you will follow through with your commitment to creating minority opportunity districts and to taking community comments into account. We urge you not to give in to partisan pressure to backslide but to forge ahead to achieve even greater equity on the Senate Maps. PA’s population has shifted significantly over the last ten years, declining in rural, western and northwestern communities, and growing in more central and southeastern areas. The LRC’s Senate map does not adequately represent these shifts. In Southwest and Central PA, the map draws many districts with populations significantly below what might be expected, while in Southeast PA, several districts are drawn with populations larger than one would expect. This means that individual voters in Southeast PA have less clout. It also means that addressing the most urgent needs of the more populous areas -- for example providing equitable funding for public education, ending the negative impacts of hold-harmless provisions related to school funding and enacting appropriate restrictions to end gun trafficking are unconscionably difficult. The standard deviation percentages suggest that rural areas have more clout almost erasing any changes that should have taken place due to the reallocation of prisoners that was voted on earlier last year. The Senate map distributes the population inequitably, penalizing urban residents and minority communities. We urge you to correct this malapportionment and vote dilution by creating more districts in Southeastern PA.