Pennsylvania

Articles about voting issues in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania: New congressional district map could be challenged by Common Cause, NAACP on civil rights grounds | Philadelphia Inquirer

Common Cause helped bring down Pennsylvania’s old congressional district map. Now, in a twist, the good-government group might undo the new map that replaced it. Micah Sims, executive director of Common Cause Pennsylvania, said his organization and the state NAACP are considering filing suit in federal court to challenge the new map imposed by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court this week. He said it may violate the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which banned obstacles to voting by minorities. Under Pennsylvania’s former 2011 map, drawn by Republicans, nonwhites make up a majority of residents in two Philadelphia-based congressional districts. In the new map, people of color appear to be the majority in only one district, he said. “In general, I think the new map is a really big win for democracy in Pennsylvania,” Sims said. “However, we want to make sure that it is not disenfranchising voters, particularly in Philadelphia.” Read More

Pennsylvania: Republican challenge to Pennsylvania map likely to fail | Politico

President Donald Trump wants Pennsylvania Republicans to fight the implementation of a court-drawn congressional map that threatens a half-dozen GOP-held seats this November, but most operatives and experts see little hope in a legal challenge to the new districts. Republicans in Harrisburg and Washington say they’re moving ahead with legal action to stop the new map. But, behind the scenes, Republican consultants are already urging their clients to get ready for these new districts in 2018. “I’m advising my clients to prepare for the worst-case scenario: that these are the maps this year,” said Mark Harris, a Republican consultant based in Pennsylvania. Read More

Pennsylvania: Republicans to sue as soon as Wednesday to block redistricted map | The Morning Call

Republicans will file suit to block the new map of Pennsylvania’s congressional districts as soon as Wednesday, officials said. Matt Gorman, communications director for the National Republican Congressional Committee, said Tuesday state and federal officials “will sue in federal court as soon as tomorrow to prevent the new partisan map from taking effect.” Top Senate Republican lawyer Drew Crompton said Monday a separation of powers case will form the essence of the GOP’s argument, according to The Associated Press. Republicans again will argue the U.S. Constitution gives state legislatures and governors, not courts, the power to draw congressional boundaries, AP reported. Read More

Pennsylvania: The Math Behind Pennsylvania’s Gerrymandered Map Getting Overturned | WIRED

The morning John Kennedy was set to testify last December, he woke up at 1:30 am, in an unfamiliar hotel room in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, adrenaline coursing through his veins. He’d never gone to court before for anything serious, much less taken the stand. Some time after sunrise, he headed to the courthouse, dressed in a gray Brooks Brothers suit, and spent the next several hours reviewing his notes and frantically pacing the halls. “I think I made a groove in the floor,” Kennedy says. By 3:30 pm, it was finally time. Kennedy’s answers started off slowly, as he worked to steady his nerves. Then, about an hour into his testimony, Exhibit 81 flashed on a screen inside the courtroom. It was a map of part of Pennsylvania’s seventh congressional district, but it might as well have been a chalk outline of a body. “It was like a crime scene,” explains Daniel Jacobson, an attorney for Arnold & Porter, which represented the League of Women Voters in its bid to overturn Pennsylvania’s 2011 electoral map, drawn by the state’s majority Republican General Assembly. The edges of the district skitter in all manner of unnatural directions, drawing comparisons to a sketch of Goofy kicking Donald Duck. Read More

Pennsylvania: State Supreme Court releases new congressional map for 2018 elections | Philadelphia Inquirer

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Monday released a new congressional district map to be used for the 2018 elections for U.S. House seats.Its plan splits only 13 counties. Of those, four counties are split into three districts and nine are split into two districts. By contrast the most recent map, enacted in 2011, split 28 counties. It also includes significant changes to the state map, including dividing Philadelphia into only two congressional districts; currently three House members represent parts of the city. In another win for local Democrats, the fourth district is centered on Montgomery County. Critics of the map adopted in 2011 often pointed to Montgomery County, which was split into five districts in that plan and had no member of congress living in the county. Bucks, Chester, and Delaware counties also receive districts based largely on their areas. Read More

Pennsylvania: The New Pennsylvania House Districts Are In | The New York Times

Perhaps no event will do more to reshape the fight for control of the House than the new congressional map just released by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. At stake was the fate of a Republican gerrymander that intended to cement a 13-5 Republican advantage in an evenly divided state. Now the Republicans will have little to no advantage at all. Democrats couldn’t have asked for much more from the new map. It’s arguably even better for them than the maps they proposed themselves. Over all, a half-dozen competitive Republican-held congressional districts move to the left, endangering several incumbent Republicans, one of whom may now be all but doomed to defeat, and improving Democratic standing in two open races. Based on recent election results, the new congressional map comes very close to achieving partisan balance. Read More

Pennsylvania: State Moves Back Towards Paper Ballots | CBS

Pennsylvania is taking steps to increase security on all voting systems used in the commonwealth. From here moving forward, all voting systems bought for Pennsylvania must have a voter-verifiable paper record of votes cast. Marian Schneider of Verified Voting, an organization which promotes accuracy and transparency in voting, says this is an important step. “The reason that having a paper record of voter intent is because paper cannot be altered by software,” she said. Read More

Pennsylvania: The governor of Pennsylvania rejects Republicans’ new map | The Economist

The best thing that can be said about a new Republican-drawn congressional map for Pennsylvania is that none of the districts resembles a cartoon character. But erasing the lines of a comically gerrymandered district dubbed “Goofy kicking Donald Duck” was not enough to satisfy an order from Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court, said Tom Wolf, the state’s Democratic governor, on February 13th. When the court ruled on January 22nd that the map in use since 2011 was an extreme partisan gerrymander that violates Pennsylvania’s constitution, it gave legislators until February 9th to send Mr Wolf a fairer map. The redrawn districts, the court advised, should be “composed of compact and contiguous territory” and should not gratuitously divide cities and counties. Curiously, the initial order said nothing about fixing the map’s skew toward Republican candidates, which has afforded their party a reliable 13-to-5 advantage in a state with more registered Democrats than Republicans. Read More

Pennsylvania: Governor rejects proposed redistricting map from GOP lawmakers | The Hill

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) on Tuesday rejected a new district map drawn by GOP lawmakers, bringing the state closer to handing its redistricting process over to a court. The GOP map was drawn after the state Supreme Court struck down the state’s current congressional map in a gerrymandering case. Wolf’s press office confirmed that the governor told Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court that he won’t approve the new congressional lines on the grounds that it’s a “partisan gerrymander that does not comply with the court’s order” or state constitution. “Partisan gerrymandering weakens citizen power, promotes gridlock and stifles meaningful reform,” Wolf said in a statement. “As non-partisan analysts have already said, their map maintains a similar partisan advantage by employing many of the same unconstitutional tactics present in their 2011 map.” Read More

Pennsylvania: State Supreme Court gives a blueprint to strike down partisan gerrymandering. | Slate

On Wednesday night, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court finally released its majority opinion explaining why Republicans’ gerrymander of Pennsylvania’s congressional districts violates the state constitution. (On Jan. 22, the court had issued a brief order directing the Legislature to redraw the illegal districts without fully explaining its reasoning.) Justice Debra McCloskey Todd’s 139-page opinion for the court is thorough and persuasive—and, critically, its reasoning isn’t entirely limited to Pennsylvania. Instead, Todd illustrates how dozens of other state constitutions may be interpreted to protect voting rights more robustly than the U.S. Constitution does. Her decision will arm activists in every state with a powerful new tool in the fight against political redistricting. Read More