If You Can’t Win, Change the Rules

Republicans in the state legislature are advancing a hastily crafted constitutional amendment to change the redistricting rules the state uses. Currently, the commission crafting the maps is made up of one member of each party from each of the state’s legislative bodies as well as one member chosen by the state’s supreme court.

A map of the new House District 161

The commission has issued new maps for the state’s legislative maps, and a public comment period on those maps is currently underway (you can comment on them here). But Republicans are incensed because these maps cut their advantage from 8% (in a 50-50 election, Republicans would win 58% of the seats) to 1.2%. The new maps still give them an advantage, but not as big an advantage.

Republicans are therefore looking to change the rules through a constitutional amendment. They would create a new redistricting body that, like the current one, has representatives from both parties. But instead of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court choosing the deciding votes on the commission, they would instead be decided by a combination of someone appointed by the Commonwealth Court (conveniently with a majority of Republicans currently) and two more members chosen by a vote of the counties. Which would give the 4,547 people in Cameron County the same vote as the 1.6 million that live in Philadelphia. Again, this would heavily skew toward Republicans as most Democrats live in the state’s most densely populated counties.

This is a power-grab to avoid facing an election with a map that independent experts indicate is pretty fair. You can read Fair District PA’s analysis of HB 2207 here.

update – Republicans are also seeking to pass a constitutional amendment to gerrymander the state courts too.

Categories: Government