HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Pennsylvania’s top lawmakers are set to redraw maps for state House and Senate districts, with the help of one other person.
Five people make up the Legislative Reapportionment Commission, including the two Republican majority leaders of the House and Senate and the two Democratic minority leaders.
Legislative Director of Fair Districts Pa. Patrick Beaty explained that they select a fifth person who is not an elected official.
“Four of them are the leaders of the General Assembly, Democrats and Republicans, and they are supposed to select a chairperson, a fifth member, who will have the deciding vote on how the lines are being drawn for House and Senate districts,” Beaty said.
On Monday and Tuesday, they’re holding meetings to hear from the dozens who applied for that fifth spot.
Khalif Ali, Executive Director of Common Cause PA says many are hopeful they pick someone who brings balance.
“A person who is impartial, who can leave the politics at home, and really decide on a fair map that represents the people of Pennsylvania,” Ali said.
Right now the experts say Pa. maps aren’t fair.
“They really are badly gerrymandered, some of the worst gerrymanders in the country, and in this case happen to benefit Republicans because they were the ones in power when those lines were drawn,” Beaty said.
Both of Pennsylvania’s state House and Senate are majority Republican, even though registered voters in the commonwealth are almost evenly Democrat and Republican.
“That’s a good indication that these maps don’t adequately represent the people of the Commonwealth so that’s a concern of ours,” Ali said. “When those maps are drawn fairly there’s going to be a pretty even distribution of both parties.”
This process is one they say we should all be paying attention to because this committee is mapping Pennyslvania’s future.
“Our power rests at the local and the state level. Your voice is much more likely to be heard here and at the state level than at the federal level,” Ali said.
If the four lawmakers on the commission can’t agree on who to pick for that fifth spot, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will appoint someone by May 30 at the latest.