Pennsylvania
Congressional BoundariesDrawn by legislature
State BoundariesDrawn by politician commission
Governor's PartyDemocratic
Legislative PartyRepublican

Census-related Redistricting Timeline Delays

Congressional

Alert:
Elevated

State Legislative

Alert:
Elevated

Related content

Process

State Legislative Districts: Politician Commission

Pennsylvania's state legislative lines are drawn by a commission of politicians called the Legislative Reapportionment Commission. The four legislative leaders, or the deputies they appoint, serve as the commissioners. These four then choose a non-politician citizen to serve as the commission's chair. If no fifth member is selected within 45 days, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court chooses. 

Congressional Districts: State Legislature

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.

Criteria

In addition to the federal requirements of one person, one vote and the Voting Rights Act, Pennsylvania’s state constitution (Art. II § 16) requires that state legislative districts be contiguous, compact, and preserve political subdivisions. In 2018, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania issued an order applying these same criteria to congressional districts.

Public Input

Pennsylvania has released its 2020 redistricting website, where the public can find relevant information and contacts.

While Pennsylvania law does not require public hearings, the Legislative Reapportionment Commission held 11 hearings during the last redistricting cycle, with one round between August and November and another between April and June. The Legislature also held hearings for congressional redistricting. It is likely that there will be similar opportunities for public input in 2021.

2011 Cycle

In the 2011 redistricting cycle, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court threw out both the state legislative and congressional maps, forcing the politician commission to draw new legislative maps and issuing its own congressional maps in place of the Legislature. Pennsylvania’s original congressional map was one of the most extreme gerrymanders in the nation.

Issues

Congressional Seats

Following the 2020 Census apportionment results, Pennsylvania lost one congressional seat.

Potential Reform

The Redistricting Reform Commission released a report in 2019 that outlines its recommendations for reform, including a citizen redistricting commission, new criteria to protect minority communities and decrease partisanship, and more transparency throughout the process. Its recommendations were based on nine public hearings, online public input, a public survey, and other state models.

Starting in 2019, Fair Districts PA orchestrated a Two Bills One Commission strategy to pass reform legislation (HB22/23 and SB1022/1023) creating an independent redistricting commission for both state legislative and congressional redistricting. The initiative gained wide support, with over 100,000 petition signers, resolutions from local governments representing over 70% of the population, and more cosponsors than any other bill in the session. Nevertheless, these proposed measures were never given a vote in the Legislature.

Following the failure of the Legislature to pass constitutional amendments for redistricting, the Plan B is to seek statutory reform through the Legislative and Congressional Redistricting Act (LACRA). This bill would increase transparency and public input in the redistricting process, along with enshrining clear criteria. LACRA has been introduced as House Bill 22 and Senate Bill 222.

Actions

Partner with state-specific organizations to fight gerrymandering and work toward redistricting reform in your state. 

In 2021, participate in the Legislature and the commission’s public input processes.

  • Obtain Pennsylvania redistricting data from OpenPrecincts.
  • Start to plan out what defines your community – whether it’s a shared economic interest, school districts, or other social or other cultural, historical, or economic interests – and how that can be represented on a map. This will come in handy once the commission and Legislature start collecting feedback.
  • 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.

If you believe the final approved maps are gerrymandered, consider taking legal action. Citizens challenging Pennsylvania maps in court have been effective in the past, as exemplified by Amanda Holt in the last redistricting cycle.

Contacts

Fair Districts PA

Draw the Lines PA

March on Harrisburg

League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania

Sources

All About Redistricting

NCSL

Ballotpedia