Making Democracy Work

Issues

Current issues of concern

Information about current issues of concern to all Pennsylvanians.

Hot Topics: Redistricting

EFFORTS TO END GERRYMANDERING CONTINUE

September 2019
Governor Wolf's bipartisan Redistricting Commission has submitted it report with recommendations for redistricting reform in Pennsylvania.

The Commission held nine 3-hour public hearings and solicited feedback online. The public comments overwhelmingly cited distrust of elected officials in drawing the maps, and demanded an open, transparent and accountable process.

Among the recommendations in the report are an 11-member commission appointed by the General Assembly and the Governor to draw five maps for consideration. The Commission report also recommended that the commissioners solicit public feedback both online and at public hearings before and after the five maps are created, and that the maps must be drawn without consideration of political affiliation of voters or previous election results.

The full report is available at <http://www.dos.pa.gov/VotingElections/Pages/Redistricting-Report-2019.aspx>

The League supports an independent redistricting commission, with strict criteria for commissioners and strict, ranked criteria for the adopted plans. The League is thankful for the thoughtful, diligent work of the Commission, and applauds the open, transparent, and public nature of the process.

Recently the League of Women Voters of the US announced the People Powered Fair Maps Campaign to support state redistricting reform efforts. See more at <http://www.lwv.org.> Click on the Voting Rights section to learn more about insuring that all voters have voting rights.

A little background on the problem: At this time Pennsylvania is near the very bottom of electoral fairness. In a PA House legislative proposal for HB 722, April 2017, the situation was detailed. "According to a recent study by the Electoral Integrity Project (EIP), Pennsylvania ranks third worst in the nation for the fairness of its electoral boundaries -- only Wisconsin and North Carolina scored worse. When politicians manipulate district lines to benefit themselves and their parties, the public always loses."

REMINDER: The recent court decision on redistricting is a temporary fix and only applies to the US Congressional Districts.

CITIZENS WORKING TO MAKE IT HAPPEN
Fair Districts PA is a nonpartisan, citizen-led statewide coalition working to create a process for redistricting that is transparent, impartial, and fair. For complete coverage of the effort, visit <http://www.fairdistrictspa.com>.

Note A number of PA municipalities have passed resolutions supporting the effort to make redistricting fair.

Note: Every ten years voting districts are redrawn. The next time our voting districts will be redrawn will happen after the 2020 census.

Hot Topics: Protecting Voting Rights

UPDATE, SEPTEMBER 2019
HR1, For the People Act 2019, was passed by the House and sent to the Senate. Senate Democrats have crafted their version of HR1 which is similar in most aspects but has a few minor differences. HOWEVER, Speaker McConnell has declared that he will not bring this bill to the floor. PERIOD. Senate Democrats are understandably frustrated and are attempting to garner support from their Republican colleagues. There is some talk of making the issue of protecting voter rights a campaign issue for 2020.

What's in HR1?
HR1, For the People Act 2019, is a package of voting reforms aimed at guaranteeing voting rights for all citizens. The major essential elements of the bill are:
1. Expand Voter Registration by modernizing the registration process through expansion of automatic voter registration and online voter registration.

2. Implement Fair Redistricting by ending gerrymandering once and for all by creating fairly drawn maps.

3. Outlaw Voter Purging. Prohibiting illegal voter roll purging will ensure that eligible voters will not find themselves wrongfully stripped of the right to vote.

4. Restore the VRA - the Voting Rights Act. Restoring the Voting Rights Act will strengthen our elections by cutting back the obstructive laws that have kept eligible voters from exercising their right at the ballot box.

For more details see <http://www.lwv.org>.

URGE YOUR SENATORS TO HAVE THIS LEGISLATION SENT TO THE FLOOR.

Hot Topics: Should We Abolish the Electoral College?

The League of Women Voters of the United States believes that the direct-popular-vote method for electing the President and Vice-President is essential to representative government. The League of Women Voters believes, therefore, that the Electoral College should be abolished.

None of the Founders' original intentions remain relevant today. The Electoral College is an imperfect system that is damaging to our democracy.

The Electoral College -

  • Puts the choice of president in the hands of voters in only a few so- called swing states;
  • Decreases participation in our democracy;
  • Polarizes our electorate into "red" and "blue;"
  • Has resulted five times in a presidential winner who did not receive a majority of the votes.

How Can the Electoral College be Abolished?
1. By constitutional amendment. A constitutional amendment has been introduced many times. January 3, 2019 House Joint Resolution 7 "proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to abolish the electoral college and to provide for the direct election of the President and Vice-President of the United States" was introduced by several representatives.

2. A constitutional amendment can take years to pass. The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC) is an acceptable interim solution. States agree to give all their electoral votes to whomever wins the national popular vote. To date 15 states have signed the compact for a total of 189 votes. In order to go into effect, the compact must have a minimum of 270 votes.

Hot Topics: Montgomery Co's New Voting Machines

MONTGOMERY COUNTY SOLVED THE PROBLEM

The new machines were used in the May Primary. For new voting machine demonstrations, see the Montgomery County website and click on Conversations with Commissioners.

Videos and other voter education materials are available online at <http://www.montcopa.org/voterservices> and will be made available at the office of state legislators, municipal buildings and libraries as soon as they become available.

For more information, <https://www.citizensforbetterelections.org>