Time right for redistricting reform

“That’s all we’re asking for: an end to the antidemocratic and un-American practice of gerrymandering congressional districts. … The fact is, gerrymandering has become a national scandal.” — President Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan understood the dangers of gerrymandering, and his words ring even truer today.

Gerrymandering has been an issue for years, and it is time to address the issue once and for all.

Creating districts that are drawn by the public, without being tainted by the powers of incumbency and party registration, will ensure competitive elections.

Competitive elections are a necessary ingredient for a successful democracy.

Furthermore, when legislators have the opportunity to fairly and independently draw our electoral maps, we should take it.

That is why that I have introduced legislation — House Bill 2327 — which establishes an Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission consisting of commissioners registered with the various parties.

Under my proposal, Pennsylvania citizens will apply to participate on the commission and be chosen to best reflect the political registration, age, ethnicity and geography of our state.

My legislation will not allow elected officials, political party officers and staff, political consultants and state or federal lobbyists to serve on this commission.

Additionally, there would be six public hearings held regionally so that Pennsyl­vanians can have their voices heard on the redistricting proposals.

Rather than a process that has been traditionally conducted behind closed doors, this process will be open and transparent, with all business being conducted publicly.

Under my proposal, maps will be presented to the public and must be approved by a majority of the commissioners.

The commission can work without the influence of either political party while acting with the support of both. And it can spark much-needed conversation about other ways to ensure every Pennsylvanians’ voice is heard.

As proposed in HB 2327, Pennsylvania’s Independent Redistricting Commission will join a growing number of independent redistricting processes around the country.

To date, more than 20 states have instituted nonpartisan approaches to redrawing electoral maps. Pennsylvania must step forward. It is time.

Jim Gregory, R-Hollidaysburg, represents the 80th Legislative District.


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