February 12, 2018

Pennsylvania GOP's redrawn map is a giant middle finger to Supreme Court, democracy

Opinion: Millions of Pa. voters are disenfranchised by the fraudulent efforts of the Republican-controlled legislature

Opinion Politics
02122018_GOP_redrawn_map House Speaker Mike Turzai/via Twitter

Republicans submitted this redrawn congressional districts map to Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf on Friday night. He was promptly urged by Democrats to reject it.

The ultimate voter fraud is gerrymandering.

It is not the effort of a few individuals to affect an election, but far worse, an effort of an entire party to control power by disenfranchising voters and separate them from their home counties.

Montgomery County – Pennsylvania's third most-populous county – has 800,000 residents, more than enough for its own congressional district. Yet for partisan political reasons, the Republican General Assembly sliced up the county to be represented by 5 different men in Congress.

In 2016 Democrats won a majority of Congressional votes but the Republicans won 13 seats and the Democrats won five. That’s political chicanery at its finest; no wonder people are cynical. This is not what our Founding Fathers had in mind.

Let’s understand the real voter fraud. In 2016 the state of Michigan did a concerted effort to track down voter fraud. They found around 50 cases out of nearly 5 million votes cast. Fifty. (And the fraud was not limited to any one party.)

Here in Pennsylvania millions upon millions of voters are disenfranchised because of the fraudulent efforts of the Republican-controlled legislature.

The Supreme Court appropriately called our state map unconstitutional. The Republicans who are in power were charged to redraw the map. While the current map looks like a bunch of twisted snakes, the new map is every bit as ridiculous. It looks like a bunch of twisted lizards.

The new map and its drawers have disrespectfully interpreted the Supreme Court orders and are essentially giving a giant middle finger to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania and to democracy.

The new map should be rejected and torn to shreds in public – to make the point that their work was a joke and insult.

The first principle in drawing a map should be keeping counties intact as much as possible. For example, Delaware County is the fourth-largest county and about 80 percent of an actual district.

Having a member of Congress who is dedicated to helping Delco is far better than having a member dedicated to their party in a disparate collection of counties. County governments should be demanding that they not be split for the sole purpose of politics.

Source/Department of the Interior

The boundaries in this map of Pennsylvania congressional districts have been used since 2013.

It amazes me how many people don’t know who their member of Congress is but it is exactly because of this kind of political machinations.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court did a courageous thing striking down this politically motivated map. The justices did a brilliant move by citing Pennsylvania law. In other states, the Supreme Courts cited federal law and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to intervene.

The next step is for Governor Wolf to reject this ghastly plan, then it would fall back to the Supreme Court to draw the map.

Since we are in an Eagles mood, let me use this metaphor.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has done an outstanding job of carrying the ball of democracy all the way to the one-yard-line. Now can they finish the job and go for it on fourth down. For once wouldn’t it be nice if democracy actually won.

The whole world of government is watching to see if justice can win and restore fairness to elections.

Miracles do happen. Democracy has been waiting a long time for a win.

Bring it home SUPREMES.

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Doc Sweitzer is a founder of The Campaign Group, a Philadelphia-based Democratic political firm. A veteran of more than 600 campaigns, he has helped to successfully elect more than 50 governors, senators or Members of Congress.