February 18th, 2021
It’s our chance to lead Pennsylvania towards better voting maps and fairer elections in the PA General Assembly.
Since Draw the Lines launched three years ago, 2021 is the year we’ve been working toward. It’s our chance to lead Pennsylvania towards better voting maps and fairer elections.
Draw the Lines has a slate of actions for you to take. First and foremost, we urge you to sign DTL’s petition to demand a legislative redistricting process that is fair, transparent, and powered by Pennsylvania’s voters. Politicians hold 4 of the 5 seats on the group that draws PA’s state legislative maps - the Legislative Reapportionment Commission (LRC). That last person, the chair, needs to be an independent voice -- chosen in a fair, open process.
How does the LRC chairperson selection process normally work? The PA State Constitution codifies the composition of the first four members as each chamber’s caucus leaders. In 2021, that will be House Democratic Leader Joanna McClinton (Philadelphia), Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa (Allegheny County), House Republican Leader Kerry Benninghoff (Centre County), and Senate Republican Leader Kim Ward (Westmoreland County). Those four will attempt to agree on the LRC chair.
Historically, that agreement rarely happens. If they can’t agree, the State Supreme Court takes charge. Because Pennsylvania elects judges in partisan elections, this choice inherently becomes political. So whichever party controls the Court in reality controls the selection of the chair. In 2011, the GOP-led bench chose a retired Republican judge. In 2021, Democrats hold the cards. There are calls for them to do the same.
There is a third way. A better way. The fifth member should be an independent, respected figure whose focus is adherence to the law, transparency, and fairness. They should be steadfast in putting the interests of Pennsylvania’s voters above elected officials and political parties.
Over 11,000 people have participated in Draw the Lines events. 1,300 of them have drawn their own congressional or legislative maps for our competitions. They have proven, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that there are scores of Pennsylvanians who are ready, willing, and able to take the lead on this process. We are confident that out of that group, there are a number of fine candidates that should be considered for the LRC chairperson.
Let’s make sure the process stays out of the courts and is widely trusted by Pennsylvanians of all political ideologies, regions, and ethnicities.
Sign the petition. And soon, we’ll be asking for folks like you to apply or nominate others to serve as the fifth member. It’s a big year! Let’s start the process the right way.