Rigged elections: In Pennsylvania, it begins with redistricting

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Last Wednesday the state Supreme Court approved revised legislative maps for Pennsylvania's House and Senate districts, which must be redrawn every 10 years to reflect shifts in population.

Predictably, Democratic legislators are griping that the redesign will pit some of their incumbents against each other in new districts at the next election. They should recall what Jesus said: Live by the sword, die by the sword.

In Pennsylvania, the districts are redrawn by a political body, the five-member Legislative Reapportionment Commission, which consists of the Democratic and Republican leaders of both the House and the Senate plus a "neutral chairman" of their choice. This time the Republicans had the upper hand on the commission, so the Democrats suffered in the end. When the Democrats control the redesign, the Republicans get squeezed.

But the public loses every time politicians draw the map, which leads to redistricting that drives election outcomes toward one party or the other. In Iowa, Arizona, California and other states, politics is either removed or reduced in redistricting -- and it's time for reform in Pennsylvania, too.

This state needs a nonpartisan citizens commission to draw the House and Senate maps every 10 years. That way no one's ox -- especially the people's -- is gored.



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