From today’s Commissioner’s meeting. UCRC Chairman Carolyn Conner’s statement encouraging the Union County Commissioners to not create a resolution in support of the PA legislature giving up their Constitutional obligation to redistrict Congressional seats.
I respectfully urge you to resist any temptation to pass a resolution in support of a new process to draw Congressional districts on two important grounds.
Redistricting is not within the purview of the Union County Commissioners. I assume you each have personal opinions, opinions you should feel free to share as individuals if you so desire. But the Commonwealth’s Constitution already defines districting as a responsibility of the state legislature – a freely elected body connected to the constituents they serve.
If, in fact, change is to be made to the process of drawing districts, it must be addressed at that level. Any resolution you pass on the subject will undermine the representation rights of Union County residents. You are not representing them well if you take positions on behalf of the whole county on issues that are not within the scope and jurisdictions of your office.
So-called fair districting plans are anything but fair. While the proponents of a new process assume it will result in a non-biased districting panel, that reality has not happened elsewhere and will not occur here. We all have bias. The proposal is simply to change which biased people will draw Congressional districts.
If you look around this room you see the faces of people who may be considered for that board. It will not be Joe or Jane Smith, hardworking, most-of-the-time voter without strong party connections who will be suggested for a seat on a redistricting board.
Instead of duly elected legislators who can be opposed and returned to private life if their bias on this or other issues is incompatible with their constituents, a small panel of preferred individuals, hand-picked by state party leadership, is touted as the solution to real and imagined concerns. The very fact that the current proposals base appointments on political party affiliation decries the stated goal of fairness. And in fact, that the current State-Supreme Court issued map may violate parts of the Federal Voting Rights Act, shows that the responsibility to draw districts should be shared by many, not a few.
If changed, all power will instead rest with a very small panel of less than a dozen individuals rather than the 254 who currently draw, review and vote on district boundaries. Bias will not be reduced at all, but simply consolidated in NON-ELECTED people unaccountable to the residents of Union County. This is neither fairness nor justice.
I urge you to reject any resolution on this issue