Written testimony on redistricting

Dear Commission, I am a resident of Coopersburg, PA in the 16th District. I am writing to voice my concerns about the unfair drawing of legislative districts in my area. I am deeply concerned that the proposed districts have not been drawn to fairly represent the voters who live there. I would like to commend those members of the legislature who are working in a bi-partisan fashion to assure the voting districts are drawn fairly, not to favor one party over another. My concern is that we are allowing legislators, who obviously have a vested interested in assuring they represent people who will vote for them, draw their own districts. This is a conflict of interest. Second, we do not have a public way to oversee how the districts are draw and there are no standards for fairness. Third, legislators use mapping technology and big data to profile voters, and then use that information to pick exactly who they want in or out of a voting district. Lastly. legislators can and do draw whatever boundaries will maximize their influence, minimize their accountability, and keep their seats in office secure. This does not support representative government and is exacerbating the "us versus them" problem we are facing in our state and nation. We cannot have a functioning democracy if we continue to separate and polarize our citizens. The districts should represent, geographically, the communities they reflect and the types of people who live there. Instead, we are using voting patterns to dictate how the districts look. Following are some key points I would like to point out about my district: -The portions of the City of Allentown that have been carved off in order to accommodate Pat Browne are a majority minority section of Allentown -Of the 26,000 people there, 7600+ are Latino and there is a sizable African American population · -20% of the Allentown School District is being carved out and divided between two senate districts -ASD has 16,600 students, of whom 11,600 are of Hispanic/Latino descent, only 1,780 are white -The proposed 16th district would include the largest ASD high school, William Allen High School which is 91.5% minority enrollment. This HS will be carved off from the proposed 14th district, which has a significantly higher minority population -The 16th would also be home to 2 of 4 middle schools and several elementary schools. Again, these minority populations would not be in the proposed adjacent VRA district (14th) -The 16th District, which includes portions of the Allentown School District to the east, includes: -PORTIONS of the Daniel Boone School District, which is 84.5% white and 4.7% Hispanic -PORTIONS of the Schuylkill Valley SD, which is 83% white and 10% Hispanic -PORTIONS of the Hamburg SD, which is 90.6% white and 6.3% Hispanic -The 16th District is 47 miles end to end and would take on average an hour and 15 minutes end to end -By comparison, the current 16th District is 30 miles long end to end and takes about 35 minutes to traverse -The geographic center of the 16th District is the City of Allentown which provides very convenient access for the most racially diverse and economically disadvantaged areas of Lehigh County whereas the PROPOSED new 16th has a geographic center in rural Berks County I remember a time when candidates and elected officials relied on their abilities to offer good arguments and policies to the voters, in order to earn votes, not carve up communities to cherry pick voters. I urge the legislature to create districts that reflect the will of voters and a more transparent process, public engagement, and clear, measurable map-drawing standards. Sincerely, John J. Barone Coopersburg ·