Legal Move To Stop Voter GOP Suppression In Pennsylvania Revealed

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A new lawsuit has been filed in Pennsylvania in hopes of securing a new Congressional district map for the state ahead of the 2022 midterm elections. In general, it’s important for these maps to effectively reflect the social and political distributions of the overall population, so that no community has their ability to substantively participate in the selection of representatives impeded. If, for instance, any given group of people end up kept out of the majority across a slew of districts, even if they could reasonably be drawn into the majority in certain locales, then they’re going to find it more difficult to elect representatives who reflect their interests.

As explained by the voting rights organization Democracy Docket, the new lawsuit “points out that Pennsylvania’s current congressional map, which was drawn using 2010 census data, is malapportioned given population shifts over the last decade and contains an extra district after the state lost a congressional seat following the 2020 census.” Democracy Docket also explains that the lawsuit argues that since state officials “failed to reach a compromise on a new plan before the General Assembly concluded their session and the Legislature will not reconvene until January 2022, it is necessary for the judicial system to step in and draw new districts before the 2022 election cycle begins.”

Republicans presently control both chambers of the Pennsylvania state legislature, so they’d have been in a position to impede progress on the formulation and implementation of new Congressional district maps.

Elsewhere, Republican efforts to turn the state-level redistricting process towards their own political ends have been more overt — in Ohio, for example, Republican Governor Mike DeWine recently signed off on a set of U.S. House district lines that appear to set up Republicans to control some 80 percent of the state’s seats, although Trump won there with a much smaller margin in 2020. Thus, the new map doesn’t appear to accurately reflect the state’s make-up. In Texas, state officials delivered two new U.S. House seats to white majorities, although the overwhelming majority of the population growth that was responsible for Texas getting those districts at all came from non-white residents.

The problems go on from there — as do the legal challenges. The proposed piece of federal legislation known as the Freedom to Vote Act would address certain instances of the political manipulation of the district line-drawing process — if enacted, it would ban the implementation of district lines that have “the intent or [have] the effect of materially favoring or disfavoring any political party.” The Senate’s filibuster rules, which demand the agreement of at least 60 Senators in the 100-member chamber before moving forward on most bills, continue to pose a problem for that proposal’s passage, however.