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Gerrymandered, unconstitutional and dangerous

By PA STATE REP. ROB MERCURI (R-28)
Posted 12/29/21

On December 16, the legislative redistricting commission voted in favor of a radically redrawn legislative map for the statehouse here in Pennsylvania that fundamentally and unconstitutionally …

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My view

Gerrymandered, unconstitutional and dangerous

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On December 16, the legislative redistricting commission voted in favor of a radically redrawn legislative map for the statehouse here in Pennsylvania that fundamentally and unconstitutionally restructures the legislature to favor a new Democratic majority. This shift drastically swings the structural advantage by registration and voting history to 106-97 for the Democrats vs. the current Republican majority of 113-90, a historic turn.

Despite the commission’s deadlocked vote among the four elected representatives, who are the elected majority and minority leaders of both chambers of the legislature, it is clear that the single unelected appointee, former Pitt Chancellor Mark Nordenberg, drafted these maps independently and cast the deciding vote.

Decades of constitutional redistricting precedent was thrown out the window as no fewer than 12 Republican incumbents were drawn into each other’s district, pitting them in electoral dog fights next year while only two Democrats were treated similarly.

Additionally, multiple safe Democrat seats were drawn into the final map, where incumbent Republicans will face a disadvantaged run against them or will be forced into early retirement.

Worse still, seven seats across the commonwealth are wide open, with no current legislator to represent them, which will create a swell of partisan opportunism at a time it is less than desirable.

This is dangerous. And what’s worse is that the results are disastrous for everyday Pennsylvanians. During this pandemic more people came to rely on their elected representatives than ever before. We legislators forged relationships with our constituents deeper than I thought possible before taking office—this is something clearly misunderstood by the unelected commissioner who cast today’s tie-breaking vote.

This is not how Pennsylvania was meant to function and we know this—we’ve run constitutional, clean and fair races from finely tuned maps for decades. A change this drastic has the potential to destabilize our state from the top down, and fuel the fires of confusion and partisanship that already rage, hurting good governance and fair representation across the state and ultimately diminishing the ability of Pennsylvania’s legislature to govern effectively.

Knowing this, we have one alternative: stand up, stand together and let our collective voice be heard. The Nordenberg map is not only gerrymandered, but unconstitutional and dangerous. It should be rejected by the PA Supreme Court at the first opportunity and the process should be returned to the elected officials of the legislative reapportionment commission for reconsideration and recalibration, for every Pennsylvanian and for our future.

State Rep. Rob Mercuri represents part of Allegheny County, PA.

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