HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Pennsylvania is no longer one of the few states not to have presented a congressional map for public review as part of redistricting. House Republicans put one out on Wednesday and it may surprise you who drew it.
It is bright. It is colorful and it is historic. “As far as I know the first time in the entire history of the commonwealth we picked a citizens map as a congressional map,” Chair of the State Government Committee Rep. Seth Grove (R) said.
That citizen was Allentown’s Amanda Holt. “I was pleasantly surprised,” she said. Holt submitted her map on a house website. It’s fairly complex. All 17 districts had to be within one person of 764,865. Other must-haves include keeping communities together and not disenfranchising minority groups. It’s like a big Pa. puzzle. “I really enjoyed that aspect of how you can make all of these different pieces fit together and do so in a way that serves the interests of the people of Pennsylvania.”
Grove liked that Holt’s districts are compact and contagious and kept voting precincts together. Not all submissions did. “Some people split the City of Pittsburgh. There’s no reason to split the City of Pittsburgh, it’s never been split,” Grove said.
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Holt’s map is just the start. It has to be approved by the house, senate, and the Governor. It will be amended and tweaked but the public can weigh in, another difference this time around. “This will change. This is a baseline, preliminary map to engage the electorate even more,” Grove said.
Holt says politics played no role in her version. She didn’t consider incumbents who she may have drawn out of their districts. Grove says he didn’t look at political make-up either. So no congressperson x called to complain for better boundaries? “Not yet. Are you anticipating it? Definitely,” Grove said.
Watchdog groups are still wary of the process and want more time to review Holt’s map. By the way, she will participate in a public hearing on her map on Thursday at 5:30 p.m.
The House State Government Committee approved the citizen-drawn map on Wednesday. Dec. 15.
It was updated in committee to make minor adjustments to improve the compactness of districts. The change is a response to citizen concerns focusing on communities of interest and increasing minority representation in Philadelphia.
“The only thing better than a citizen-drawn map is a citizen-drawn map that incorporates the feedback of citizens all across our Commonwealth,” Grove said. “The minor adjustments made to the preliminary plan reflect changes that were important to Pennsylvanians.”
To view the updated map, visit their website and click on “Preliminary Map” by clicking here.