Cumberland County Commissioners: Redistricting Reform Needed Now

The Cumberland County Board of Commissioners this week added its voice to others that are calling for redistricting reform in Pennsylvania.

According to a story published on the PennLive website, commissioners voted unanimously April 11 to approve a resolution urging the Legislature to pass a constitutional amendment that would task legislative and congressional redistricting efforts to independent citizens commissions.

We recommend reading the entire story, but wanted to draw your attention to comments from two commissioners, who explain the effect of bizarre divvied up districts:

“The constitutional amendment, the board said, would remove, to the fullest extent possible, politicians and partisan politics from the process of legislative redistricting and congressional reapportionment.
“Our county… should not be carved up as it was the last time around to suit the political whims of the political power brokers in Harrisburg,” said Commissioner Jim Hertzler. “This is a reform in the best interests of 246,000 residents in Cumberland County.”
The commissioners argued that the constant shifting of districts is a disservice to voters. When a new district is redrawn, communities risk losing a legislator that lives in their area and knows their problems.
Commissioner Gary Eichelberger said Mechanicsburg was “split down the middle” during the last congressional reapportionment.
“I could throw a rock [from my side] and hit the next congressional district,” Eichelberger said. “It’s not supposed to be that way.”

Cumberland County commissioners aren’t alone: Pittsburgh City Council in December passed a similar resolution calling for an end to gerrymandering in Pennsylvania.

Fair Districts PA and our member organizations are also calling for a better way of drawing political maps in the Keystone State—and are endorsing a set of recently introduced companion bills aimed at ending gerrymandering through a constitutional amendment that would task district drawing to independent redistricting commissions to ensure the process is fair and transparent.

If you want to join us in supporting redistricting efforts in general, and those two pieces of legislation specifically, sign our petition today—and feel free to help yourself to some background information on the bills, the redistricting process, and ways you can use your social network to help get the word out about why this is an issue everyone should be paying attention to.