HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Pennsylvania’s elected officials are busy re-drawing boundaries for seats in congress and the state house and senate. That process is called redistricting. It happens every ten years, and maps should be revealed very soon. Some critics say, not soon enough.
There have been public hearings, public input, and publicly drawn maps but redistricting watchdogs say it’s time for the public to see and hear from the people doing the drawing.
“I’m hearing too much silence and there’s no good reason,” David Thornburgh said. He is with the committee of 70 and says 49 and 9 are magic numbers. “We have 49 days left to put congressional maps in place so we avoid the confusion and chaos of a late primary, people not knowing who they’re voting for and candidates not knowing where their districts are.”
And Thornburgh says Pa. is one of nine states not to have released its congressional map yet. “Time is getting short and urgency is getting greater and greater,” Thornburgh said.
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“You have to wonder what’s the objection to the public seeing these maps. That’s not a good look,” Chris Fowler said. He teaches at Penn State and is on the governor’s advisory council for redistricting. He fears an intentional delay in releasing maps that are then rushed through the legislature, pushing the primary and landing in the courts. “I think there’s the potential here for bad legislative practices that make democracy look fake and it doesn’t have to be that way.”
A press release shows legislative Republicans have their buzzwords for this year’s redistricting. “Most transparent and accountable. Most transparent process in history. Transparent, accessible process that is accountable.” But is it?
“So far, not the case. We have time but not much. So we gotta get going,” Thornburgh said.
Remember that these are two separate processes. The congressional maps are a bill passed by lawmakers and signed by the governor, who can veto. The state house and senate seats are drawn and passed by a commission. They have until January 12 to produce a map and then the public will get 30 days to weigh in on it.