Bethlehem Event Highlights Redistricting Reform

An engaged crowd gathered on a hot Friday evening for a discussion on ”Gerrymandering and How to Create Fair Districts in Pennsylvania.” 

The event was sponsored by the The Unitarian Universalist Church of the Lehigh Valley and the League of Women Voters of Lehigh County.

The evening began with a short video about gerrymandering: “Why Rigging Elections is Totally Legal.

This was followed by a brief presentation by Carol Kuniholm, election reform specialist for the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania and co-chair of Fair Districts PA, highlighting impacts of gerrymandered districts on voters, parties, communities, candidates and policy.

Senator Lisa Boscola and Representative David Parker discussed their own reasons for tackling redistricting reform. Boscola described the way redistricting has been used to punish legislators who vote their conscience in opposition to party leadership, while Parker talked about the way the 2002 redistricting split Monroe County among six state senators, with none actually living in the state.

They described their bills, SB 484 and HB 1835, and explained the mechanisms for selection of commissioners.

Common Cause Senior Advisor Barry Kauffman called attention to attendance by two heroes of redistricting reform efforts in PA: Amanda Holt, key complainant in a successful 2012 redistricting appeal, and Representative Steve Samuelson, who was a driving force behind a similar reform effort in 2008.

While it’s now too late to see constitutional amendments pass in the 2015-2016 legislative session, all agreed that with enough public pressure, early passage of an amendment in the next session would make it possible to have an impartial process in place in time for the 2020 redistricting. Those in attendance were urged to stay informed and help spread the word about the importance of redistricting.

For more, check coverage by WFMZ.