Pennsylvania Pennsylvania

  • Congressional boundaries: Drawn by legislature.
  • State boundaries: Drawn by politician commission.
  • Legislative Control: Republican
  • Governor's Political Party: Democratic
  • Tests of recent elections
  • Last updated: August 24th 2020

Process

Pennsylvania's congressional lines are drawn by the state Legislature by ordinary statute, and are subject to the Governor's veto. The Legislature can override vetoes with a two-thirds vote in each chamber.

Pennsylvania's state legislative lines are drawn by a commission of politicians. The four legislative leaders each select one commission member. These four then choose a fifth, who acts as the commission's chair. If no fifth member is selected within 45 days, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court chooses. Only the chair of the commission must be a citizen. An initial plan must be drafted by the commission either 90 days after the receipt of census data or after commission formation, whichever is later. An initial plan is finalized 30 days after the last public exception is filed against it.

In addition to the federal requirements of one person, one vote and the Voting Rights Act, Pennsylvania law requires that state legislative and congressional districts be compact, contiguous, and preserve political subdivisions.

Pennsylvania has two public input requirements. First, any final plan must be published in at least one newspaper per state legislative district. This publication must include the whole map, a map of the area that the newspaper serves, and the population and variation of all districts in the plan. Second, within 30 days of a proposed plan of final plan, any "aggrieved person" may file a challenge in the state's Supreme Court. Outside of these requirements, Pennsylvania does not mandate public hearings, but in 2011, such hearings were held between September 7 and November 23. Without a change in law, a similar timeline seems likely.

Issues

  • In 2018, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that the congressional map was an illegal partisan gerrymander, based on the "free and fair elections" clause of its state constitution. This undid one of the most extreme gerrymanders in the nation.

  • In 2019, the Redistricting Reform Commission released a report that outlines its recommendations for reform. Its recommendations were based on nine public hearings, online public input, a public survey, and other state models.

  • In July 2020, the Pennsylvania General Assembly left Harrisburg without voting on bills to create an independent citizen redistricting commission in the Commonwealth, effectively preventing any change in who draws the lines before the 2021 redistricting cycle. As a result, the Legislative and Congressional Redistricting Act (HB2638/SB1242), or “LACRA,” has been introduced to codify fairness criteria, ensure that the process is transparent and open to the public, and to reduce conflicts of interest for the Chair of the Legislative Reapportionment Commission (LRC). PGP has produced one-pagers to explain LACRA's communities of interest criterion; minority protections; partisan fairness; public input & transparency; and responsiveness provision.

  • In 2020, the entire Pennsylvania House and half the Pennsylvania Senate will be up for re-election.

  • In 2021, both Congressional and legislative line-drawing will be under the control of both major parties.

  • Based upon a recent estimate of congressional seat changes following the 2020 census, Pennsylvania is estimated to lose one congressional seat.

Actions

Advocate for the Legislative and Congressional Redistricting Act (HB2638/SB1242) to create fair redistricting criteria and require public input and transparency.

In 2020, support legislative candidates who will advocate for fair districting.

In 2021, use public comment to push the Legislature towards drawing fair districts and to identify communities of interest.

  • Obtain Pennsylvania redistricting data from OpenPrecincts.

  • Use software tools such as Dave's Redistricting App and Districtr to draw district maps showing either (a) what a fair map would look like, or (b) where the community you believe should be better represented is located.