Making Democracy Work

Issues

Current issues of concern

Information about current issues of concern to all Pennsylvanians.

Hot Topics: Redistricting

TIME HAS RUN OUT FOR PA REDISTRICTING FOR NOW.

August, 2018
Efforts to make sure our state legislative district boundaries are drawn fairly, and not in a partisan manner, fell apart. Both House Bill 722 and Senate Bill 22 were heavily amended, which would have made our current dismal system even worse. These bills failed and the legislature adjourned for the summer.

THE SITUATION
PA is near the very bottom of electoral fairness. According to the PA House legislative proposal for HB 722, April 2017, "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."

WHAT NEEDED TO HAPPEN In order to change the current process, citizens need to vote to amend the State Constitution. To do this, PA House and Senate had to agree on a bill and pass it in two consecutive legislative sessions to meet the deadline for putting a state constitution amendment on the ballot in the November 2020 election.

That did not happen.

Many legislators are determined to keep fighting for an impartial system of drawing legislative districts.

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 Old, outdated voting machines with no paper verification.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.

BUT, a setback. In June Governor Wolf signed a budget bill that contained no funding for secure voting machines. This 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.