by Kate Shunney
Pennsylvania’s political redistricting that follows the 2020 Census is a process that’s underway now. The state lost a congressional district due to population shifts, and will go from 18 congressional representatives to 17. Other district lines must change to make sure each state and regional district are the correct size based on new population counts.
The Pa. General Assembly must consider and pass new maps that will affect the 2022 election cycle.
Governor Tom Wolf announced the creation in September of a Pennsylvania Redistricting Public Comment Portal to “allow citizens to provide input on the congressional redistricting process.”
The website, at https://portal.pennsylvania-mapping.org/, allows citizens to read about district plans, make comments about proposed maps and draw community maps of their own to submit for review at the state level.
“Maps, communities of interest, and comments shared via the portal will be considered by the governor as he works with the Pennsylvania legislature to develop new Congressional maps for the next decade,” said Pa. officials.
A Pennsylvania Redistricting Advisory Council has held a number of listening sessions throughout the state to gather public input about new maps.
“The six-member council is comprised of redistricting experts who will provide guidance to the governor and draft redistricting principles to assist his review of the congressional redistricting plan which will be passed by the General Assembly later this year,” said the governor’s office.
“The council will review redistricting processes in other states that reduce gerrymandering, develop factors to determine if a plan
improves the integrity and fairness and prevents the dilution of a person’s vote and offer recommendations to ensure that districts are compact and contiguous to keep communities together and ensure people are proportionally represented,” state officials said.
District boundaries determine how communities are represented at a state and federal level. Every state is required to have districts of roughly equal population.
“Traditional principles also include that districts be reasonably shaped (compactness), that each district should be one connected piece (contiguity), and that cities and counties be kept whole when possible (political boundaries),” the state’s redistricting website says.
Residents can use Districtr – a website map drawing tool — to draw a plan or “Community of Interest.”
Districtr is free, open-source software designed just for public input in the redistricting process. Once citizens have drawn a proposed map, they can click the “Save” button and find a submission link that will let them submit that map to the state redistricting effort.
Residents who prefer to send written feedback by mail can send it to Office of the Governor, 508 Main Capitol Building, Harrisburg, Pa. 17120.