Making Democracy Work

Issues

Current issues of concern

Information about current issues of concern to all Pennsylvanians.

Hot Topics: Redistricting

NEW STATE APPROACH TO REDISTRICTING. November, 2018.

See the Home Page on this website for the GOOD NEWS about Governor Wolf's new Redistricting Reform Commission.

While the state legislature did not manage to pass legislation in the last session that would have changed Pennsylvania's voting map from grossly unfair to fair, Governor Wolf has created a bipartisan commission to create a way to end gerrymandering.

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.

MAKING 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>.

This session's legislative failure is not the end of the effort.

Suggestions for citizen action are listed on the Fair Districts website.

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

Hot Topics: Does My Vote Count?

The question: Does my vote count?
The answer: Maybe, maybe not.
What's the problem? Old, outdated voting machines with no paper verification.
What's the solution? New voting systems with paper verification as soon as possible.

So, how's that coming?
The non-partisan group Citizens for Better Elections (http://www.citizensforbetterelections.com), and other groups are working hard to make every vote count. The mission is to ensure accurate, verifiable and secure elections. They have worked hard, lobbying legislators and the Governor in Harrisburg. In response Governor Wolf called for all counties to select new voting systems with paper records by the end of 2019.

UPDATE DECEMBER 2018 Montgomery County has said it will shortly decide (maybe in December), what new voting machines to purchase.

Governor Wolf has said he will put money in the budget this year for new machines but the possible sticking point is counties will have to put up some money. It's unclear if the General Assembly will support the budget and if counties will agree to pay a share.

A new wrinkle: Jill Stein has won a lawsuit in Pennsylvania in which the settlement requires that all of Pennsylvania use paper records by 2020 and has robust election audit by 2020. According to Citizens for Better Elections it remains to be seen if the General Assembly and counties will go along with this.

All this uncertainty is a disappointment but Citizens for Better Elections, and other groups as well as individuals will continue to push for elections that will be secure and capable of being audited and recounted.

THE GOOD NEWS FROM CITIZENS FOR BETTER ELECTIONS

So far -

  • Montgomery County has transitioned from saying there is nothing wrong with our machines, to committing to get new voting machines by 2019.
  • We've expanded our work into Delaware County with strong, committed leaders who are reaching out to their Delaware County elected officials.
  • We've learned a great deal about Harrisburg, and we know more about how to navigate the legislature.
  • Our bipartisan educational efforts have made this an issue that many legislators will support in the future.
  • We've learned more about the voting systems and had a visible presence at two voting machine open houses.
WHAT'S NEXT?

  • We will continue to urge the Montgomery and Delaware County Commissioners to purchase the most secure voting system available, which consists of voter-marked paper ballots scanned by machines and accessible ballot-marking devices. This type of voting system is the most affordable, the most secure, and the most universally accessible for people with various needs.
  • We will push Montgomery and Delaware Counties to improve election security measures this November.
  • We will continue our advocacy in Harrisburg until we have funding for machines and good legislation.

Elections are the foundation of our democracy. We will not stop until we know our foundation is secure.