Citizen-led redistricting committee inspires reform bills

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Pennsylvania’s congressional districts will be redrawn following the 2020 census. This time, a new group may take charge of drawing the boundaries.

Two bills in the General Assembly would create an independent redistricting commission.

House Bill 722 would create a five-person commission that includes the majority and minority leaders of the House and Senate, or deputies appointed by them. The four members would select a fifth person who does not hold a public office as the commission chair.

A companion proposal, Senate Bill 22, would create a redistricting commission of 11 independent citizens; four registered as Republicans, four registered as Democrats, and three with affiliations that are neither Republican nor Democrat.

Members of the California Citizens Redistricting Commission attended a town hall Monday evening at Widener Law School. In 2012, the California Citizens Redistricting Commission became the first and is still the only private group to draw a state’s congressional district boundaries. 

“We know that this is the solution to gerrymandering. It’s an effective solution because it’s independent citizens acting on behalf of their fellow citizens in a transparent manner,” said Jeanne Raya, chair of California Redistricting Commission.

In California, a committee narrowed down 36,000 applicants to a 14-member group.

“We see much more work getting done because people are less entrenched in their view. There’s more compromise, more collaboration,” Raya said.

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