Letter to the editor: Gerrymandering & democracy
Thank you for the editorial ”Gerrymandering doesn’t represent us.”Gerrymandering can be a complicated subject, but you focused on the essence of the problem with the sentence, “Representative democracy doesn’t work if it’s not representative.”
This assessment sums up the reason our state and federal governments are dysfunctional. If we can’t select the best people to address our concerns and can’t vote them out if they don’t, we shouldn’t be surprised when we get gridlock rather than effective problem solving.
Many states have proven that independent citizens commissions do a better job in drawing districts because citizens are motivated to provide true representation. Also, they are eager for transparency and input from their fellow citizens.
I advocate support of Senate Bill 22 with amendments, which has been passed out of committee and would establish a citizens commission. However, in its current form, the legislators would pick the commission members. This is not an independent commission. House Bills 22 and 23 are languishing in the House, and they would create an independent citizens commission.
I was a plaintiff in the 2017 lawsuit in which the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that the congressional district map was unconstitutionally gerrymandered. That decision resulted in a fair map, but with the 2020 census, new districts will again be drawn by officeholders unless the process is changed.
To restore true representation to our democracy, citizens have to demand this change. The legislators have had centuries to improve redistricting fairness, and they have failed. It’s time to give citizens a chance!
The writer is Pittsburgh coordinator for Fair Districts PA (fairdistrictspa.com).