July 16, 2021
Redistricting: It must be open, transparent and participatory

With preliminary Census figures due to be released in August, PA legislators and the Legislative Reapportionment Commission have begun preparations for the decennial redistricting of our Congressional and General Assembly districts. Pennsylvanians would have been best served by an independent commission in drawing the lines, but we’re encouraged by several initial steps taken in Harrisburg to move towards a more open, transparent and participatory process. That said, it will be imperative that one of these steps be the presentation of draft mapping plans to the public for analysis and feedback. No number of public hearings will be sufficient if a proposed map is revealed and passed in a matter of days, as happened in 2011. Amid unprecedented public attention, scrutiny, and concern around political map-making, guaranteeing the utmost transparency will be essential to creating districts that Pennsylvanians can trust. Read our full statement.
  • No time for dawdling: The AP reports that while preliminary Census figures will be released next month, the comprehensive data necessary for redistricting might not be available until the end of September, and counties will need the new maps by Jan. 24 in order to provide the requisite information to candidates and others circulating nominating petitions starting Feb. 15 for the May primary.
  • Citizen Map Corps: Veterans of our Draw the Lines mapping competitions are preparing to draft 17-district congressional mapping plans conforming to current state and federal law, and DTL will also soon release a Pennsylvania Citizens’ Map that strives to represent the collective work of the hundreds of Pennsylvanians who have mapped in the five DTL public mapping competitions held since 2018.
“Forensic investigation” update: A $40M bill for Philly taxpayers? 

That’s City Commissioner Al Schmidt’s cost estimate if Philadelphia is forced to buy new voting systems after undergoing an Arizona-style audit, which State Sen. Doug Mastriano seems determined to conduct in three Pennsylvania counties, including Philadelphia. As a result of the Arizona fiasco, Maricopa County (where Phoenix is located) has had to purchase new voting machines. Meanwhile, election officials in Tioga and York counties objected to Sen. Mastriano’s demand that they turn over their voting machines to his Intergovernmental Operations Committee, citing a directive from the PA Department of State.
  • This nonsense must stop: As Commissioner Schmidt has repeatedly pointed out, the election has already been audited twice, and taxpayers shouldn’t have to foot the bill for one lawmaker’s political agenda.
Caught our eye
City Council redistricting: With initial Census figures due next month, how might councilmanic redistricting play out this cycle? The Philadelphia Citizen has more.
On our radar
Not what the founders had in mind: The move by legislative Republicans to put a voter ID requirement in the state Constitution subverts the legislative process, Fair Districts PA legislative director Patrick Beaty argues in an Inquirer op-ed.
Legal defense funds: Billy Penn reports that two indicted Philadelphia City Council members have received contributions to their legal defense funds from several questionable sources.
Controller critiques Kenney finances: A new report from Philadelphia City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart finds uncorrected issues in the administration, including its $40M payroll system, according to WHYY.
After NYC, where will ranked-choice voting go next? The Fulcrum reports that Lansing, MI, and King County, WA (where Seattle is located) are considering RCV, while a lawsuit in Alaska could threaten its adoption there next year.
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