Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Redistricting Appeals

The Pittsburgh Tribune posted a story on Saturday ("Democrats contest GOP's map of legislative districts") about an appeal filed with the PA Supreme Court contesting the latest redistricting map.  It was filed by 20 state Senate Democrats.

Not to be outdone, Montgomery County Commissioners Josh Shapiro and Leslie Richards, along with five other Montgomery County residents, filed a similar appeal.

Shapiro distributed this statement:

“Earlier today, along with seven other Montgomery County residents, I filed an appeal (“Shapiro et al v. 2011 Legislative Reapportionment Commission”) before the state Supreme Court opposing the 2011 Legislative Reapportionment plan that resulted in an unconstitutional map that will undermine the interests of the citizens of Montgomery County and other Pennsylvanians.

Each decade, the Legislature is required to redraw the legislative boundaries for the state House and state Senate based on changes in the Commonwealth’s population.Last year, that process played out in an overtly political manner that hurt our County and many others.

The process is obviously political as it is run by political leaders. However, what occurred this time went beyond traditional politicking. In fact, as a result of the partisan gerrymandering, the Supreme Court last year invalidated the first map passed by this Commission.

The Pennsylvania Constitution reads, “Unless absolutely necessary no county, city, incorporated town, borough, township or ward shall be divided in forming either a senatorial or representative district.” This Plan does not meet the clear constitutional standard.

Based on our population, Montgomery County should be apportioned three whole Senate seats, and a portion of a fourth. Instead, the Plan splits our county into six State Senate districts—none of which is wholly contained within Montgomery County.

With regards to the House of Representatives, only three of the nineteen proposed House districts within Montgomery County followed the Constitutional instruction to avoid splitting municipalities or counties.

These splits were clearly designed to give the Republicans an advantage at the polls--not to comply with the constitutional directive.

The state House map is particularly egregious in three of our communities. Lower Merion, large enough for one intact State House seat, was split into four separate districts. Upper Dublin, which could constitute half of a House district on its own, instead constitutes a fraction of three separate districts. Pottstown, has its Borough portion divided into two seats, with voters in certain wards divided into different House districts.

Our appeal seeks to overturn this new map and force the Commission to redraw the lines in a fair, non-partisan way that keeps communities intact within district lines and places a premium on representation and not partisan political gain.”

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