Democracy Works: Pennsylvania's Fight For Fair Maps

Sep 9, 2019

Lee Ann Banaszak
Credit Penn State Political Science Department

Pennsylvania is one of several states in the midst of a battle to ensure fair congressional maps are drawn after the 2020 Census. As we say in the episode, redistricting is one of democracy's thorniest problems. It's easy to say you want a map that's fair, but far more difficult to determine what that actually looks like.

The Keystone State received a new congressional map in 2018 following a decision from the state Supreme Court. However, that was a temporary fix designed to counter partisan gerrymandering that occurred after the 2010 Census. Since then, several groups have been working to implement a more permanent change for the next map drawing in 2021.

One of those groups is a bipartisan Redistricting Reform Commission chartered by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf. Penn State's Lee Ann Banaszak, a professor of political science, was part of that commission and joins us this week to talk about how they tackled the question of fairness, and what they learned at public hearings throughout the state earlier this year. Following in the footsteps of states like Arizona and California, the commission recommended that Pennsylvania create an independent 11-member citizens' commission to develop maps that would be submitted to the legislature for approval.