GOP’s new map called ‘more gerrymandered’

February 16, 2018

Gov. Tom Wolf has informed the state Supreme Court that he will not accept the proposed map Republican leaders submitted because it, too, is a partisan gerrymander that doesn’t comply with the court’s order or Pennsylvania’s Constitution.

“Partisan gerrymandering weakens citizen power, promotes gridlock and stifles meaningful reform,” Wolf said in a statement issued on Tuesday. “As non-partisan analysts have already said, their map maintains a similar partisan advantage by employing many of the same unconstitutional tactics present in their 2011 map.”

After the Washington Post, New York Times and several other experts viewed the new proposal by GOP leaders House Speaker Mike Turzai (R-28) and Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-25), a team selected by Wolf analyzed the new map.

The governor’s team determined that, like the 2011 map, the one submitted this week by Republican leaders is still a gerrymander.

“Their map clearly seeks to benefit one political party, which is the essence of why the court found the current map to be unconstitutional,” Wolf said.

Tufts University Professor Moon Duchin, who joined Wolf’s team of analysts, concluded the map is biased in favor of the GOP. He said it’s “extremely unlikely” to have come about that way by chance.

“There is no more than a 0.1 percent chance that a plan drafted to comply with the court’s factors would have been as favorable to Republicans as is the proposed plan,” Duchin said.

“When measured by tracking its partisan bias, the proposal failed emphatically. Only the 2011 plan that is currently in effect started from a more severe partisan skew and stood out more in this test.”

Princeton University Professor Sam Wang bluntly stated that “a prettier map can still conceal ill intent and it appears that Republicans are not dealing in good faith with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s order.”

A Washington Post data expert concluded that “Pennsylvania Republicans have drawn a new congressional map that is just as gerrymandered as the old one.”

The New York Times found the submitted map would extract the same partisan advantage for Republicans as the current one.

Brian Amos, a redistricting expert at the University of Florida, said there was still a “strong Republican bias, which is why the congressional and State Senate plans were struck down for being gerrymanders.”

The court had ordered the state legislature to draw a new map following last month’s ruling that the prior map was unconstitutional.

Numerous published reports show that, under the 2011 map, Republicans consistently won 13 of the state’s 18 congressional seats.

The court found the map deprived voters of fair elections.

The justices wrote that, “An election corrupted by extensive, sophisticated gerrymandering and partisan dilution of votes is not free and equal.”

But the new map would likely have the same result.

In 2016, for example, President Donald Trump won 12 of the state’s districts and Hillary Clinton won 6. Under the new proposal, that would likely still be the case.

“A few years ago, Legislative Republicans leaned heavily on their large majorities in the Senate and House and produced a gerrymandered map that was so contorted that the state Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional,” said State Sen. Anthony Williams (D-8).

“The Republican map was not fair and did not provide equitable representation,” he said. “In its ruling, the court outlined a specific procedure to create a new constitutionally supported congressional map that meets legal scrutiny. Citizens should be assured that their voices are heard in Washington.”

State Sen. Art Haywood (D-4) said fair districts for full representation of residents in the commonwealth are needed.

“Our congressional lines have been wrong since 2011. I agree with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on their ruling that the maps we had in place were unconstitutional,” he said.

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