By Kaylee Lindenmuth
HARRISBURG, Dauphin County - Governor Tom Wolf has rejected the plan for congressional redistricting submitted by House Speaker Mike Turzai and Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati last week, citing a "a similar partisan advantage" to the currently-employed map, issued in 2011.
“Partisan gerrymandering weakens citizen power, promotes gridlock and stifles meaningful reform,” Wolf said in a release. ”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... The analysis by my team shows that, like the 2011 map, the map submitted to my office 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.”
Professor Moon Duchin, a mathematician at Tufts University in Bedford, Massachusetts, released a statement following analysis of the map, stating "the proposed Joint Submission Plan is extremely, and unnecessarily, partisan."
"I examined the proposed Joint Submission Plan using a mathematical method that took into account only the factors set forth in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court order: respect for political boundaries, compactness, and population parity... I concluded that the proposed Joint Submission Plan’s bias in favor of Republicans is extremely unlikely to have come about by chance. There is no more than a 0.1% chance that a plan drafted to comply with the Court’s factors would have been as favorable to Republicans as is the proposed Joint Submission Plan," Duchin added.
In January, the Supreme Court ruled the currently-employed map unconstitutional, ordering the map redrawn. The General Assembly was given a February 9 deadline to submit a proposal to Wolf, who had a February 15 deadline to submit an approved map to the court. If the deadline couldn't be met, the map would be redrawn by the courts ahead of the May 15 primary elections.
Under the current map, Schuylkill County is the only full county within it's district 17, which cuts through the Poconos and into the Lehigh and Wyoming Valley's, including Easton, Wilkes-Barre,and Scranton.
Under the plan rejected today, Schuylkill County would move to District 11, and would be one of two full counties in the district spanning five counties. The proposed District 11 runs from northern Luzerne County to southern Dauphin County, encompassing Lebanon County and extreme northwestern Carbon County. Lebanon, Hazleton and Harrisburg would join Shenandoah, Mahanoy City, and Pottsville in the new district, if approved. Northern Dauphin County, including Williamstown, would be a part of District 10, and northeastern Luzerne County would be in District 17.