Friday, May 18, 2007

PA Gerrymandering

In response to Brad Bumsted's news article about a Senate panel shooting down legislation aimed at limiting lawmakers' terms ("Pa. Senate kills term-limit measure," May 9 and, I would ask that the panel, or any local lawmakers, address the problem of fair redistricting if they are unwilling to impose term limits.
Gerrymandering robs the voters of choices, takes away competition between parties and, in the absence of term limits, creates an unbalanced system.
Pennsylvania should adopt a format similar to the California model, which allows registered voters to assist in establishing fair districts. There is also the model from Iowa, which is consistently noted as having the fairest and most competitive districts in the country.
Each model allows for a bipartisan panel with outside input to create fair and sensible legislative districts. Each state House district in Iowa is usually within a state Senate district and each state Senate district is within a U.S. congressional district.
At a recent hearing in the Pittsburgh area, one freshman lawmaker referred to the gerrymandering practice in Western Pennsylvania as leading to districts "resembling the Florida keys" instead of Iowa's grid.
If the Senate is serious about reform and fairness, it needs to follow Iowa's and California's leads. Otherwise, a major issue will be ignored.

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