Gerrymandering

Katie Meyer / 90.5 WESA

Advocates for overhauling the redistricting process packed the Capitol rotunda Tuesday hoping to persuade lawmakers to take their quest seriously.

Pennsylvania's congressional districts are considered among the most unfair in the country.

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

According to the state constitution, congressional districts should be compact, contiguous and respect county lines. But that isn’t exactly the case for Pennsylvania’s 12th.

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

In Southwestern Pennsylvania, there’s a congressional district that looks like a hammer.

PA Court To Mull Hearing Partisan Gerrymandering Suit Similar To Case Before SCOTUS

Sep 1, 2017
Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

Tom Rentschler, an attorney and former high school teacher, has lived in Berks County for most of his life. He remembers as a young adult going to the grocery store and bumping into his local congressman.

But Rentschler, 53, says over time he and other voters in Berks County have lost their voice.

"I just don't think we have anyone speaking for our county," he says.

Evan Vucci / AP

Several congressional districts around Philadelphia are shaping up as battlegrounds in the mid-term elections next year.

The often-quoted Cook Political Report just changed its outlook for one of them, the 6th District held by Republican Ryan Costello, from "likely Republican" to "lean Republican," giving the incumbent a more narrow advantage in his re-election battle.

The 6th is one of a ring of districts in the Pennsylvania suburbs that the National Democratic Campaign Committee is targeting next year.

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

Aaron Anthony, his wife Lauren Kokai, two-year-old daughter Adelaide, and their long-haired cat Cyrus recently moved into a single family home in Anthony’s hometown, Shaler. It’s just north of Pittsburgh, along the Allegheny River.

“A hidden gem,” Kokai said. “There’s lots of kids running around, rugrats on bikes.”

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The League of Women Voters is leading a new lawsuit seeking to throw out the map of Pennsylvania's congressional districts as an unconstitutional gerrymander that favors Republicans and violates the rights of Democratic voters.

The lawsuit was filed Thursday in the state Commonwealth Court. It is the first to challenge districts originally drawn by Republican state lawmakers in 2011. It says Pennsylvania's map is one of the worst gerrymanders in the country.

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Around the state, advocates and frustrated Pennsylvanians are pushing lawmakers to change the rules governing how district lines are redrawn every 10 years.

The current process lets politicians the skew districts in their political favor—a process known as gerrymandering.

Maryland To Pennsylvania (And 4 Other States): We'll Redistrict When You Do

Apr 4, 2017
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President Donald Trump, a Republican, won Pennsylvania by a narrow margin of 68,000 votes. The state has about 900,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans. 

Gerrymandering Battle Draws A Crowd In PA

Mar 1, 2017
Dave Davies / WHYY

Could a citizens' group defy tradition and change Pennsylvania politics?

Fair Districts PA, which has taken on the issue of gerrymandering in state political boundaries, is at least making some noise.

Dividing Lines: How PA's Elections Really Are Rigged

Nov 6, 2016
Lindsay Lazarski / Keystone Crossroads

In the months leading up to the 2016 election, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has repeatedly made claims that the election is rigged. In a way, he’s right. Only the rigging happens long before anyone casts a ballot on Election Day and in most places it’s completely legal.

Gerrymandering is the age-old practice that’s made many teenagers’ eyes glaze over in high school civics class. In case you need a refresher, it’s the process of drawing election districts to give one political party — Republican or Democrat — an advantage over the other. 

Legislative Data Processing Center

 A proposed bill is looking to change how Pennsylvania draws its legislative and congressional districts

The bill’s sponsor, Monroe County Republican David Parker said the measure would cut down on gerrymandering.

Gerrymandering is prevalent in Pennsylvania—it’s when legislative maps are drawn to benefit a political party.

Parker said the ultimate results don’t benefit constituents.

“When these districts become so large and kind of snake around and are odd shapes, it’s difficult for them to truly represent everybody in the whole district,” he said.

Every 10 years a fight explodes in Harrisburg over how to redraw state House, Senate and U.S. Congressional districts, with Republican and Democratic lawmakers wrangling over what often becomes a map full of oddly shaped districts drawn in an effort to keep one party or the other in power. 

State Rep. Ted Harhai (D-Westmoreland) wants to end the fight by creating a new independent panel to redraw the districts following the decennial U.S. census.

Pennsylvania Could Explore Citizen Redistricting

Jul 21, 2015
Gettysburg National Military Park

 Federal law mandates that legislative districts be revised every ten years to reflect new census data. In the past, legislators in Pennsylvania, as with other states, have been known to redraw the lines of a congressional district in a way that benefits the majority party. Our guest, state Rep. Ted Harhai (D-Monessen) introduced a bill that would create a citizens commission to handle redistricting and ensure that they don't unnecessarily divide municipalities.