Redistricting panel has monstrous task

Unfair, detrimental and unethical were the words attached to the system of redistricting in Pennsylvania at a recent local hearing facilitated by the Pennsylvania Redistricting Reform Commission.

The commission has been tasked by Gov. Wolf with studying best practices for nonpartisan redistricting and engaging state residents for their input.

The adjectives they were given from residents at the hearing in Williamsport were accurate.

We would add politicized to describe the crazy quilt of legislative districts that is meant to assure election and re-election of candidates for both major political parties.

And how about embarrassing, as in the way it looks both to rational people in Pennsylvania and the rest of the nation.

A new map, rooted in bipartisanship, is supposed to be drawn after the 2020 census.

We don’t know what the perfect product should look like. That’s the job of the commission.

But we know districts are not supposed to look like the Finger Lakes. We know that neighbors should be voting in the same races. We believe that would create more interest in those races and would promote better representation.

Perhaps the commission can start by getting a ruler and dividing 18 congressional districts and 253 state legislative districts into a grid of Pennsylvania’s roughly rectangular shape, then making modifications for population numbers.

So long as the plan is based on fairness and logic, it is practically guaranteed to be better than what the state has now.

A woman at the hearing spoke of moving two hours east to the Williamsport area and still being in the same congressional district, due to gerrymandering. She said she felt the district was so large it put a burden on anyone running for office and representing constituents.

She’s right.

And it’s wrong.

–The Williamsport Sun-Gazette

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