Published: Wed, February 21, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Pennsylvania Supreme Court releases new state congressional voting map

Pennsylvania Supreme Court releases new state congressional voting map

"It's time for Harrisburg to wake up and treat Berks County right".

As we've written previously, we prefer that a citizens commission - like the one proposed by Fair Districts PA - handle the task of drawing legislative districts.

Across Pennsylvania districts have been reshaped and renumbered.

The 7th District, currently occupied by outgoing Republican Pat Meehan, has been relegated to Lehigh and Northhampton counties, while the 1st District, long held by retiring Philadelphia Democrat Bob Brady, will now encompass Bucks County and a small portion of Montco. The seat includes parts of Cumberland and all of Franklin and Adams counties.

While most of the Hazleton area within Luzerne County falls within the new 8th District, some falls in neighboring 9th District, which includes all of Schuylkill and Carbon counties. Barletta, a Hazelton Republican, is leaving the U.S. House in hopes of winning his party's nominaton to run against U.S. Sen. Montgomery County would be represented by the 6th, 8th and 13th districts.

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The state Supreme Court approved the map on a 4-3 vote by its self-imposed Monday deadline. That prompted Peters to start thinking about moving into one of two nearby districts that don't have a Republican incumbent, while trying to gauge whether a federal lawsuit will undo the new districts. Judges have found that a district doesn't have to look monstrous to qualify as unconstitutional, especially given the capabilities of mapmakers to use computational power to precisely slice and dice a state into pieces more favorable to Democrats or Republicans.

The new map won't apply to March's special election in southwestern Pennsylvania's 18th district. But the Indiana County Republican now lives in Thompson's district. The Brennan Center for Justice estimated that the old map had accounted for an additional three to four GOP seats in Congress. Republicans have won 13 of Pennsylvania's 18 seats in three elections under the invalidated map, although statewide elections are often closely contested.

The map is meant to settle the controversy over gerrymandering in the state.

Republican lawmakers have vowed to resist the court's order, saying they will seek a federal challenge to whatever map is selected. "We anticipate further action in federal court.", the statement said.

"It is composed of congressional districts which follow the traditional redistricting criteria of compactness, contiguity, equality of population, and respect for the integrity of political subdivisions", the court ruled.

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Pennsylvania's current map is considered to be one of the most gerrymandered in the U.S.

The court-drawn map is expected to upend that tilt.

Gov. Tom Wolf applauded the court for its decision.

The map brings a number of changes from the 2011 map.

Under the plan unveiled Monday, voters across the state will find themselves in congressional districts with new shapes and new district numbers when they go to the polls for the May 15 primary. "Voters can't get to know the candidates, and the candidates can't talk the issues".

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In doing so, the majority of the court decreed that once they determined that the state's congressional districts were illegally gerrymandered they had no choice but to push forward a plan to replace the plan as soon as possible. And the map saga has played out at a time when candidates normally would be ramping up campaigns, securing key endorsements and circulating their nominating petitions. The next census is in 2020.

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