WEST VINCENT, PA — At the February 18th Board of Supervisors meeting in West Vincent Township, township supervisors unanimously adopted a resolution seeking to end gerrymandering in Pennsylvania by calling for an independent redistricting commission to draw congressional and state legislative district lines. This is the fourth Chester County township resolution in five business days.
Gerrymandering is the practice of manipulating electoral district lines for the unfair political advantage of a person or party.
Language in the resolution states:
“…the creation of a truly independent citizens redistricting commission devoid of political motivation or partisanship will: ensure a fair, transparent, and accurate legislative and congressional redistricting process that respects political subdivisions; prohibit districts from being drawn to favor or discriminate against a political party or candidate; require the use of impartial and sound methodology when setting district boundaries; require public input; and fully comply with the constitutional requirement that “no county, city, incorporated town, borough, township or ward” be divided “unless absolutely necessary, documents the municipality’s support of legislation that would create an independent citizens commission end the current practice of politicians approving maps describing the boundaries of their own voting districts.”
There is vast public support throughout Pennsylvania for an end to partisan gerrymandering. A September 2019 Franklin & Marshall Center for Opinion Research poll measured 67% of registered voters of both parties favor an independent redistricting commission, including majorities of Democrats (66%), Independents (78%), and Republicans (63%).
Pennsylvania citizens and legislators working together in a bipartisan manner have crafted a Two-Bills-One-Commission solution that was introduced into the PA House by Representative Thomas Murt (R-152, Montgomery & Philadelphia) and Representative Steve Samuelson (D-135, Northampton) and in the Senate by Senator Thomas Killion (R-9, Chester & Delaware) and Senator Lisa Boscola (D-18, Lehigh & Northampton).
House Bills 22 & 23 currently have the most cosponsors of any bills introduced this session, and the recently-introduced matching Senate Bills 1022 & 1023 are currently collecting cosponsorships.
Back in West Vincent Township, local residents and Fair Districts PA supporters James Deisinger and John Barnett brought the resolution to their Board of Supervisors to sign. “In a conservative township, the resolution was well-received by both the Board and the townspeople,” Mr. Deisinger said, making the point that support for an independent commission is not just a welcome innovation for only part of Pennsylvania’s voting population.
West Vincent Supervisor Sara Shick has read a lot about redistricting reform and said, “A more fair way of creating voting districts is a good idea. Elected officials shouldn’t be drawing the lines.”
West Vincent Township joins over 360 municipalities including 22 counties across the state in passing a Fair Districts Resolution.