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Teaming Up to Tackle Redistricting Reform in Pa.

The federal government stipulates that districts must have nearly equal populations and must not discriminate on the basis of race or ethnicity, according to Ballotpedia.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling June 8 about making voting maps more fair in Alabama gives new hope to groups in Pennsylvania that have teamed up to get redistricting reform bills passed in the Commonwealth to stop what they see as gerrymandering.

The new Pennsylvania Redistricting Table is a partnership of organizations concerned about redistricting, saying they want the process to focus on voters instead of legislators and political parties.

Carol Kuniholm, chair of the group Fair Districts PA, said more than 200 people attended a virtual forum - showing there is considerable interest in redistricting reform.

"The panelists," said Kuniholm, "they discussed what we've learned about redistricting reform, what we've learned about how to make sure voters' votes are not diluted in the redistricting process."

She said her organization has been trying to get reform legislation passed since 2016.

The League of Women Voters and other groups involved in the partnership have been working on this since the 1980s. But so far, legislative leadership has blocked the bills.

Kuniholm said they believe the redistricting process needs to be completely changed so that citizens' voices are stronger - and that legislators have much less clout in the outcome.

"So, communities that feel like they don't have a choice often stop voting," said Kuniholm. "People who feel like, you know, we've had the same legislator forever - there's no way to change that, because the district is drawn to keep that person in power."

She added that it's important for Pennsylvanians to stay informed about the next census in 2030 and the subsequent redistricting process which will happen the year after.

The Pennsylvania Redistricting Table plans to let people know as early as possible about why the census and redistricting processes matter, to ensure that everyone is counted.