October 26th, 2021
Draw the Lines today publicly called on the General Assembly to swiftly and transparently produce a draft map of congressional districts for public comment, using the 2020 Census data released in August, citing its own Pennsylvania Citizens’ Map as an example of a fair and sound map that was produced using input from thousands of Pennsylvanians who drew their own districts.
Harrisburg, PA - Draw the Lines PA, an initiative of the Committee of Seventy, today publicly called on the General Assembly to swiftly and transparently produce a draft map of congressional districts for public comment, using the 2020 Census data released in August, citing its own Pennsylvania Citizens’ Map as an example of a fair and sound map that was produced just two weeks after the data was made available.
Members of the organization today also handed out its specially-created jigsaw puzzle of the Citizens’ Map to individual legislators along with a letter from David Thornburgh, Chair of the Draw the Lines PA and President and CEO of the Committee of Seventy. The letter reminds legislators that there are only 90 days left to produce a map before the Department of State’s deadline of January 24, 2022. Draw the Lines calls on the General Assembly to provide ample time for the public to comment on a draft map before finalizing districts and sending them to the Governor for signature or veto.
“There is no reason for the Legislature to delay in drawing and making public a fair congressional map so that the public has time to comment on it before a final map must be passed,” Thornburgh said. “Draw the Lines was able to create and publicize our map just two weeks after the latest Census data became available, and, ever since, we have been accepting public input on the map, which we intend to share with the General Assembly. Today we are kicking off Draw the Lines’ official 90-day countdown to when the Legislature must produce and pass a congressional map -- the clock is ticking.”
At a press conference outside the State Capitol today, Thornburgh and Draw the Lines PA Map Corps members urged legislators to:
1. Produce a draft congressional map for public review NOW;
2. Create an accompanying narrative for the draft and final maps they produce so citizens can understand how and why districts are drawn the way they are.
The Pennsylvania Citizens’ Map, which Draw the Lines PA released in early September, proposes 17 congressional districts and reflects the work of more than 7,200 Pennsylvanians who drew 1,500 congressional maps through competitions held since 2018. These citizen mappers are from 40 of the Commonwealth’s 67 counties, representing almost 90% of the population, and they range from 13 year-old high school freshmen, to college students from institutions across Pennsylvania, to senior citizens. Accompanying the Citizens’ Map is a narrative that tells the story of each of the 17 districts and outlines the process used by citizens and Draw the Lines to create the map.
Using the Citizens’ Map as an example, Draw the Lines is calling on the General Assembly to maximize the time in which Pennsylvania citizens will have to provide comment on the legislation that creates the map. The 2011 process, which produced districts that were considered some of the most egregious gerrymanders in the country and were eventually overturned by the State Supreme Court in 2018, was done in a single week with no public comment.
Tuesday’s event is part of a multipronged slate of actions Draw the Lines is taking to put pressure on the General Assembly to produce a draft congressional map for public comment. Draw the Lines citizen mappers testified at multiple regional hearings held by the House State Government Committee over the last few weeks. This past spring, DTL’s famous “Voteswagon” toured the state calling for a fair and open redistricting process. And, upon entering Harrisburg off I-83, legislators are greeted with billboards calling on them to produce their map.
Any Pennsylvanian can view and provide their own comments to the Citizens’ Map on drawthelinespa.org. Draw the Lines plans to share those comments with the General Assembly, and DTL encourages commenters to do the same.