In most states, the legislature is in charge of designing Congressional and state voting districts.
Pennsylvania isn’t unique in that respect. But some say the commonwealth is home to some of the nation’s starkest examples of gerrymandering — where the shape of a voting district is manipulated to produce the outcome desired by the party in charge. The term is over 200 years old. It was coined by a Boston newspaper’s coverage of maps produced in Massachusetts in 1812 during the term of Gov. Elbridge Gerry, which featured a salamander-shaped district loosely coiled around Boston.
To this day, politicians on both sides of the aisle seem to be doing their best to make it an immortal turn of phrase.
Pennsylvania’s most recent congressional map, drawn in 2011, is known as a particularly egregious example.
“Pennsylvania is one of the worst states this decade in terms of its congressional map,” said Michael Li, senior redistricting counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law.