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Big - but Limited - Win in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court!

  • On January 22, 2018, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in the League of Women Voters gerrymandering case, holding that the state’s congressional map “clearly, plainly, and palpably” violated the state constitution and blocking its use in the May 2018 primaries.

  •  The Court ordered the Legislature to propose a new map for the Governor's review and, if the Governor doesn't accept the map, the Court will impose a map of its own design, using traditional, non-partisan principals of redistricting.
  •  A second legislative map was rejected by the Court and ultimately, the state supreme Court itself created a map of its own design, using traditional, non-partisan principals. We submitted our methodology to the Court, which aided in the redrawing of the congressional map that was implemented in the most recent November election. 

  • The current map will be effective only until the 2020 census and new congressional (and state) redistricting occurs in 2021.  As new lines are drawn, our work becomes critically important to ensure fairness in electoral representation!

We were actively engaged in Agre v. Wolf

  • We actively supported the Agre v. Wolf case filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in October 2017. The Agre case represented a fresh look at the federal Elections Clause in the U.S. Constitution, and argued that the Constitutional language does not grant authority to state legislatures to manipulate Congressional districts for partisan advantage. CCFD provided expert witnesses, and legal and financial support to this important case.
  • The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania ruled two to one against the plaintiffs. The U.S. Supreme Court denied plaintiffs’ appeal after ruling against several other major gerrymandering cases (particularly Gill v Whitford from Wisconsin) 

CCFD's Current Proposed Non-Partisan Redistricting Solution

  • Concerned Citizens for Democracy has successfully devised a nonpartisan set of principles for redistricting congressional and other legislative seats that creates a workable standard for any court in almost any state with any number of districts.

  • The principles are based on (1) the traditional districting standards of contiguity, equal population, compactness and no unnecessary division of counties and other political subdivisions, and (2) additional rules that geographically and geometrically detect and limit partisan gerrymandering.
  •  The rules will allow courts to detect partisan gerrymandering by comparing proposed maps with underlying voter performance data. Moreover, the rules provide the courts with a workable neutral remedy to require legislatures to redraw maps in a nonpartisan manner.  
  • These guidelines, based on the PA Constitution and the 1972 PA Congressional Map, were offered into evidence in the Agre case and will be presented on appeal to the United States Supreme Court.  
  • The rules will likely result in a congressional map with an equal number of heavily Republican and heavily Democratic districts, an equal number of Republican-leaning and Democratic-leaning districts, and an equal number of competitive districts.
  • See CCFD's proposed 2018 redistricting maps below! New maps will be created after the 2020 census. 


Specifics for Federal and State Redistricting


   A Neutral Methodology for Creating Congressional Districts   


If we take the criteria from the 1911 Reapportionment Act and the PA Constitution and apply those principles to PA’s Congressional districts, an appropriate non-partisan set of districting rules might initially look something like this:

Congressional districts composed of territory that:

—Is compact;

—Is contiguous;

—Is as equal in population as practicable; and

—Has no subdividing of any county, city, incorporated town, borough, township or ward, “unless absolutely necessary.” (See further below.)

However, given the tendency of those drafting Congressional districts to use partisan criteria or partisan proxies for the design of districts, some useful additional guidelines to avoid gerrymandered maps might be as follows. These guidelines are NOT exhaustive, and additional neutral criteria might be considered. In addition, these criteria are based on the assumption that it is legally required to have exactly equal populations in each district (+ or – one person) based on the preceding U.S. Census.

No county shall be divided unless absolutely necessary to create Congressional districts that are “equal in size to the extent reasonably practicable” and then may be divided only as many times as is absolutely necessary to achieve this objective.

No precinct, borough, township, incorporated town, or ward shall be divided unless absolutely necessary to create Congressional districts that are “equal in size to the extent reasonably practicable” and then may be divided only as many times as is absolutely necessary to achieve this objective.

Where additional territory is needed for additional population in a district, it shall be added from the border of a contiguous county and shall move inward only after all of the contiguous territory of the county has first been utilized.

If a county’s population is greater than the average Congressional district size, any additional population may not be added to adjoining counties that have a population greater than that of an average district. Such additional population must instead be added to adjoining counties whose population is smaller than the average district (unless there is no adjoining county which is smaller than an average district).

Districts shall be “reasonably compact”. An appropriate compactness score can be derived by using any of several common measures of geometric compactness, the simplest and most intuitive being the Polsby-Popper, Schwartzberg, and Reock measures. The Legislature might choose to measure the compactness of the Congressional districts from the 1931, 1943, 1951 and 1962 maps to devise a target level of compactness for any new Congressional district map.


A Neutral Methodology for Creating State Legislative Districts

Article 2 Section 16 of the Pennsylvania Constitution states:

§ 16. Legislative districts. The Commonwealth shall be divided into 50 senatorial and 203

representative districts, which shall be composed of compact and

contiguous territory as nearly equal in population as

practicable. Each senatorial district shall elect one Senator,

and each representative district one Representative. Unless

absolutely necessary no county, city, incorporated town,

 borough, township or ward shall be divided in forming either a

senatorial or representative district.

(Apr. 23, 1968, P.L.App.3, Prop. No.1)

Step 1: Divide the Commonwealth into 203 House and 50 senatorial districts of roughly equal population using only whole cities, counties, townships, boroughs, towns and wards in a reasonably compact manner. Preference shall be given at this point to avoid the division of counties, cities, townships, boroughs and wards. 

At each step, districts shall be assembled in a compact manner.

Step 2: Where territory needs to be added or subtracted larger geographical districts to achieve more equal population districts, one may add or subtract territory at the borders of a whole political subdivision in a linear fashion, layer by layer, using whole precincts or other political subdivisions to achieve more equal population districts. 

Note: Territory may not be added to a political subdivision which has a larger population than needed for a legislative district of equal population. Such excess territory must instead be added to an abutting municipality which needs additional population to form a complete district with equal population.

Step 3: After step 2, only one township, borough or ward may be divided along a common border to achieve equal population districts; and then such break shall be in a compact manner assembling precincts or census blocks in a linear or layer by layer manner. 

Step 4: Subject to the above rules, districts shall be compact using commonly used mathematical compactness measures (Polsby-Popper, Schwartzberg, and Reock scores). Districts that fail to achieve maximum compactness using these measures shall be rejected as improper. 

Step 5: Check to make sure that districts resulting from the above methodology do not violate the Voting Rights Act by inadvertently eliminating minority districts.  

Help Make It Happen & Spread the WORD

Please give what you can - even if you don't live in Pennsylvania. Every dollar helps and no donation is too small.  Your contributions will directly fund our ongoing litigation to  end gerrymandering. Help Today!

We're blazing the trail for many states with similar constitutional provisions.   Gerrymandered districts in Pennsylvania affect the entire country.  

CCFD is a Pennsylvania Non-Profit Association (501)(c)(3) status pending).

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