Redistricting procedure in Pennsylvania

This blog entry is related to the poll:What rules to adopt to draw district boundaries and avoid gerrymandering? (Total: 4 posts)
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I have suggested the following changes in the redistricting procedure in Pennsylvania. Currently, the seats in the congressional delegation are drawn by an "independant commission" but its members are appointed by the leadership of the party caucuses in the two houses of the General Assembly. The 4 appointed members select one independant member. Seats in the state Senate and House of Representatives are drawn the leadership of the two major parties in the two houses themselves. There is no connection between federal House seats, state Senate seats, and state House seats.

  1. Reduce the number of seats in the General Assembly based on the Congressional delegation from the state. There are currently 50 members of the Senate and 203 in the House of Representatives. Based on 18 federal representatives I suggest 36 in the Senate and 180 in the House. I personally think the General Assembly should be smaller but it would be hard politically to reduce the size more. The number of seats in each house would change every census when the congressional delegation changes.
  2. Require the seats in the General Assembly to stay within a congressional district.
  3. Establish an independant redistricting commission made up of faculty from the state universitie's department of geography, political science, and demographics.
  4. Start the districts in one of the corners of the state. The south-west is a 90 degree angle. Politically, the south-east corner (Philadelphia) might be more realistic.
  5. Districts should keep counties within a district as much as possible. Smaller civil subdivisions (townships and boroughs) should stay within a district as much as possible.
  6. The General Assembly would pass or reject the districts established by the independant redistricting commission with no changes allowed.
  7. If the General Assembly could not agree to new districts after two maps drawn by the commission the state Supreme Court would make the final decision as it does now. The Supreme Court could accept one of the offered maps or order another map be drawn if neither meets the constitutional requirments.

The procedures used by the Redistricting Commission should by publicly available. All information would be published on the state web site within 10 days. If software is used it should be open source or generally avaible to the public. In other words, no propriatary software would be allowed. The current districts were ordered by the Supreme Court because a Republican activist drew more equal districts on her home computer then the state drew.

Comments

1st rate information & proposal

Thank you very much for this very interesting proposal. I agree that it make sense.

I have added a link to this post in the related policy wiki page:
http://en.minguo.info/wiki/gerrymandering

Thanks.