Census Results in PA and Redistricting

The census data is slowly being processed and more of it is becoming accessible. Pennsylvania is set to lose 1 congressional seat because it grew slower than the country as a whole. In 2010 each district had approximately 700,000 residents, after the 2020 census each seat will have approximately 765,000 residents. None of the current districts have that many residents, so all districts will have to grow. The districts in southeast Pennsylvania make up all but one of the fastest growing districts, the other is the 10th out in Dauphin County. Pennsylvania’s current congressional delegation is evenly split between the parties. Districts represented by Democrats grew by an average of 4.5%, while districts represented by Republicans grew on average less than 0.5%. One Democratic district and 5 Republican districts lost population.

Of Pennsylvania’s counties, 44 lost population and 23 gained population. Delaware County was 15th in terms of percent growth, just after Bucks at 14th. Philadelphia was 10th, Montgomery 5th, Chester 4th. Cumberland County ranked #1 with 10% growth while two counties lost more than 10% of their population (Cameron and Susquehanna). Overall Pennsylvania grew by 2.4% over the past decade, with DelCo growing slightly faster than the state as a whole (3.2%). Delaware County remains the 5th most populous county in the state but Lancaster and Chester counties are quickly catching up.

The state of Pennsylvania will draw the new district maps from these numbers. Our state rep Leanne Krueger said this in her latest email to constituents,

Pennsylvania is in the process of redrawing the state’s House and Senate and congressional district boundaries based on recently released census numbers, and the five-member legislative reapportionment commission is now meeting to draw the lines of these legislative districts.

The Pennsylvania constitution requires districts to be compact and contiguous, and that they keep communities together. For too long though these guidelines have been ignored in favor of gerrymandered districts to appease special interests or to amass political power.

I encourage you to reclaim your voting power during this year’s redistricting process by contacting the redistricting commission and letting them know your opinions. You can submit a comment, view other people’s comments and participate in public hearings.

I took a look at the most recent comments, and most were calling for fair districts but a number noted the problems of how prisoners are counted. Currently prisoners are counted where they are being held, not in their home community. In 2017, 47% of the prison population is black although only 11% of the state is, and these prisoners are held in largely white communities, thus depriving their home districts of political power. This kind of prison gerrymandering is structural racism at work. Fair districts has a write-up here and the NAACP filed a lawsuit to stop it but the courts rejected it this year.

Categories: Government