Can Pa. lawmakers beat the 90-day clock and solve redistricting puzzle?

Pennsylvania Politics

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Census data was approved this week and the clock is now ticking for lawmakers to redraw congressional maps that will be in place for the next decade.

In Pennsylvania’s redistricting past, mapmakers have made some puzzling decisions when they’ve drawn political boundaries.

House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff (R) is on the redistricting commission and insists map making in a huge and diverse state isn’t so easy. “People look at those former examples of 20 years ago as being egregious which they were. For people to think you can take the state of Pennsylvania and you can make these equal geographic shapes is impractical,” Benninghoff said.

Impractical perhaps, but not impossible according to the Good Government Group Committee of 70 which took citizen input, made a map, made a puzzle out of it, and handed it out to all 253 state lawmakers. More than seven thousand people in 40 counties contributed. The final product is a composite of their work.

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“The whole point of this is to make sure the voice of the citizens is heard which as you know, has not only been the case in the past,” David Thornburgh of the Good Government Group Committee of 70 said.

Benninghoff insists this time the people are being heard and the mapmakers being seen. “Because of technology and the ability to have real-time communication and observations there is no secrecy to this it’s not like we’re gonna go in a dark room and draw maps and frankly, what do we have to gain by that,” Benninghoff said.

Thornburgh is calling on the legislature to release its draft map very soon so the public has time to see it and weigh in on it and push for changes to it. “You can’t beat something with nothing. If you’ve got a better map then step forward and let’s take a look at it,” Thornburgh said.

Benninghoff will have to solve the redistricting puzzle and says he’s this one (meaning the puzzle). Has he put it together? “I have not, maybe one of my grandchildren can do it a little faster than I can,” Benninghoff said.

You can view and interact with the map through the link here.

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