Gerrymandering means voters get fewer options at the ballot box. When politicians draw district lines that protect their seats, it makes it even harder for third-party and independent candidates to run against incumbents and win. In the 2016 general election, incumbents ran unopposed in almost half of PA House and Senate races. In the 2014 election that number was even higher: 58%.
Pennsylvania policy, to date, has effectively locked out third-party and independent voters through closed primaries, gerrymandered districts and campaign finance laws that allow undue outside influence. Redistricting reform won’t entirely fix that, but would at least give third-party and independent voters a say in how the lines are drawn. That, in turn, would open the door to more competitive elections and would provide a first step toward greater responsiveness to new voices and alternative points of view.