Thank you for your editorial earlier this spring supporting a constitutional amendment to improve the way Pennsylvania’s legislative and Congressional districts are drawn. This amendment suffered a confusing array of legislative tricks in the waning days of the most recent legislative session, seemingly dooming its passage. We quote the Scranton Times-Tribune to describe what happened:
“(A constitutional amendment) would end legislative control of the process and at least diminish gerrymandering, the process by which legislative majorities draw districts to preserve their own power rather than to ensure equal representation and fair, competitive elections.
That measure was especially threatening to incumbents who stay in office by using gerrymandering to select their voters. It drew multiple poison pills, an avalanche of obfuscation.
First, Senate Republicans came up with some legislative arsenic. Moments before a vote on an amendment to turn over redistricting to a citizens commission, they added a provision that would create judicial districts for appellate court seats to replace statewide elections.
Then, in the House, members added more than 700 amendments to the redistricting legislation, dooming it to die under the weight.
House Republican Majority Dave Reed of Indiana County, who will retire after this term and had claimed that the anti-gerrymandering effort had enough votes to succeed, called the amendment tsunami ‘disappointing.'”
There is a window of opportunity to correct this error. Governor Wolf can call a special session of the legislature specifically to complete this work. We urge the Times-Observer to support this action on the part of the Governor. We urge our County Commissioners, who have passed a resolution supporting a change in the way districts are drawn in PA, to reach out to the Governor to support this special session. We urge Representative Rapp and Senator Hutchinson to support the legislation backed by FairDistrictsPA during the special session, and we urge all people who support a better way of drawing our congressional and legislative districts to contact the governor and our representatives.
Susan L. Stout, Phyllis Wright,
League of Women Voters of Warren County