Gov. Wolf: Fair Congressional Maps are Possible, Highlights Gerrymander-Free Examples
January 15, 2022
Governor Tom Wolf today highlighted two redistricting maps as examples of new congressional district boundaries that are consistent with the Redistricting Principles of the Pennsylvania Redistricting Advisory Council, free of gerrymandering and in full accord with the Voting Rights Act and United States and Pennsylvania Supreme Court precedent.
“Throughout the congressional redistricting process, I have publicly outlined the requirements for a fair map that I would consider signing,” said Gov. Wolf. “While the House Republican map does not comply with those basic principles, I am highlighting two maps that do.”
Following the House’s passage of a congressional redistricting map this week that fails to meet the Redistricting Principles outlined last year by the council, today the governor provided his own map and highlighted a citizen-created congressional redistricting map as examples of maps he would support to move this process forward.
The Governor’s Map
Decisions about where to draw new boundaries were made, first and foremost, in accordance with the neutral criteria of compactness, contiguity, minimization of division of political subdivisions and maintenance of population equality among congressional districts. These requirements, as interpreted by the United States and Pennsylvania Supreme Courts, implement the fundamental right to vote and the Free and Equal Clause of Article I, Section 5 of Pennsylvania’s Constitution, the latter of which was intended by the Framers of the Constitution to guarantee, to the greatest degree possible, a voter’s right to equal participation in the electoral process for the selection of their representatives in government.
Overall, this map maintains a degree of continuity with the current congressional map, while making targeted changes to comply with the United States and Pennsylvania Constitutions and to align with the Redistricting principles recommended by the Redistricting Advisory Council and comments received from the public.
Developed by thousands of Pennsylvanians, the Pennsylvania Citizens’ Map represents the voices of more than 7,200 Pennsylvanians who participated in mapping contests hosted by Draw the Lines over the past three years, the first time this large a group of citizens has come together to contribute to a redistricting map. The Citizens’ Map draws on over 1,500 map submissions to balance values mappers found important throughout the process. While the Citizens’ Map differs from the Governor’s Map in areas, both are in keeping with the principles recommended by the Redistricting Advisory Council. In particular, the Citizens’ Map is accompanied by an extensive narrative about why key decisions were made as they were.
“The map I developed and the Pennsylvania Citizens’ Map show that there are multiple maps that can be created in keeping with the Redistricting Principles we announced months ago,” said Gov. Wolf. “Each of these maps respects the neutral criteria of compactness, contiguity, minimization of the division of political subdivisions, and maintenance of population equality among congressional districts as outlined by the United States and Pennsylvania Supreme Courts, while also preventing the unfair dilution of any group’s vote for congressional representative.”
The governor believes that Pennsylvania must have a fair map and that politicians should not use redistricting to choose their own voters. Unfortunately, however, Pennsylvania does not have an independent redistricting process. As part of the governor’s commitment to transparency, he created the Pennsylvania Redistricting Advisory Council in September. The council’s six experts in redistricting, political science and mapmaking held eight in-person and one virtual listening sessions in October and November to gather public feedback. The council released a set of Redistricting Principles in late November to help inform and guide the General Assembly’s selection and the governor’s review of a map.
The Redistricting Principles are intended to prevent gerrymandering and ensure compliance with constitutional requirements by calling for districts to be nearly equal in population, to be compact, to minimize subdivision splits unless needed to protect communities of interest and to encourage competitive elections by responding to changing voter preferences.
“The decisions we are about to make implicate fundamental constitutional rights and will affect every Pennsylvanian for the next decade,” said Gov. Wolf. “It’s imperative that everyone has a voice in this process and continues to provide feedback. I encourage the legislature to review these maps and negotiate in a bipartisan fashion to send a fair map to my desk.”
All of the citizen map submissions and public comments are available to view on the Wolf Administration’s Pennsylvania Redistricting Public Comment Portal. The public can also share written comments to ensure their voice is heard in this once-in-a-decade process.