July 13th - Legislative Reapportionment Commission Appoints Mapping Consultant and Holds First Hearing

The Legislative Reapportionment Commission holds an public hearing to focus on census data, primary election deadlines, and reapportionment criteria. The meeting began with an administrative matter, regarding the appointment of Jonathan Cervas. (Agenda and Resolution). Watch the meeting.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021 | 2:00 p.m. Hearing Room #1, North Office Building, Harrisburg, PA

  • Selection of Jonathan Cervas (Resolution)
  • Brent McClintock, Executive Director, Legislative Data Processing Center (Testimony)
  • Jennifer Shultz, Data Services Manager, Pennsylvania State Data Center (Testimony)
  • Jessica Mathis, Director, Bureau of Elections and Notaries, Department of State (Letter)
  • David Thornburgh, Chair of the Pennsylvania Redistricting Reform Commission (Testimony)

Overview:

At an administrative meeting on July 13, 2021, the Legislative Reapportionment Commission authorized the appointment of Dr. Jonathan R. Cervas as a mapping consultant.

Dr. Cervas, a native of Pennsylvania, currently holds a post-doctoral fellowship with the Institute for Politics and Strategy at Carnegie Mellon University. He earned his master’s degree and a Ph.D. in Political Science at the University of California at Irvine, where the chair of his dissertation committee was Professor Bernard Grofman, one of this country’s leading election law scholars, someone who is respected not only for his expertise but for his non-partisan approach. He has been recommended for service as a special master in redistricting cases by both Democrats and Republicans.

In three such cases, Dr. Cervas, who also is committed to a non-partisan approach, served as assistant to the special master, demonstrating and further developing his technological capabilities. He also has co-authored articles about various aspects of redistricting with Prof. Grofman and is affiliated with the Princeton Gerrymandering Project.

In commenting on this appointment, LRC Chair Mark Nordenberg said, “Consistent with the approach that I have taken in recruiting for other positions, I looked for a highly capable professional with directly relevant experience who also is non-partisan. I also had a preference for a Pennsylvanian. The expertise possessed by Dr. Cervas will be important to the work of this commission for three key reasons: (1) we expect to receive a record number of citizen submissions, which not only need to be received but reviewed; (2) the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has made clear that it expects the Commission both to assess its own plan against constitutional standards and to compare its plan to other submissions; and (3) as someone who has no technical expertise in this area, Dr. Cervas will be a valuable resource to me, as I expect he will be to the other members of the Commission. In the end, of course, it is the responsibility of the five Commission members to develop a constitutionally acceptable plan.”

Following its administrative meeting, the Commission conducted its first hearing, which consisted of three major segments.

  • Brent McClintock, the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Legislative Data Processing Center, and Jennifer Shultz, the Data Services Manager for the Penn State Data Center, discussed the receipt and processing of census data. Because the delivery of federal census data has been significantly delayed, these issues have assumed particular significance in the current reapportionment process.
  • Jessica Mathis, the Director of the Bureau of Elections and Notaries in the Department of State testified with respect to statutory deadlines for the Spring 2022 primary elections. Delays in the delivery of federal census data will create significant challenges in meeting key primary-election deadlines.
  • David Thornburgh, the CEO of the Committee of Seventy, served as Chair of the Pennsylvania Redistricting Reform Commission. That group had conducted multiple hearings in different parts of the state. It also collected online comments and conducted an online survey. Based on the information collected by the Redistricting Reform Commission, as well as perspectives gained through his service as Managing Director of Draw the Lines PA, which has engaged 7,200 citizen-mappers who have completed and submitted 1,500 final maps, Mr. Thornburgh discussed citizen perspectives on redistricting criteria and objectives.

July 13, 2021