Redistricting: Why Are Districts So Crazy?

See a short video by Amanda Holt, whose sensible citizen-oriented redistricting plan for the state after the 2010 census helped save West Chester from dismemberment between 2 PA House districts, at

For more background and a proposed redistricting reform, see also FairDistrictsPA.

Revised PA district maps still have ‘excessive divisions’

By Eric Boehm | PA Independent, 5/3/12

Commission hears criticism from both sides of the aisle

HARRISBURG — Redistricting crusader Amanda Holt told Pennsylvania’s reapportionment commission Wednesday to stop trying to redefine the English language.

When the state constitution says counties and municipalities should be split “when absolutely necessary,” it means exactly that, she said.

The revised plan for new state House and Senate districts that was opened for public comment Wednesday contains “excessive divisions on a massive scale” even after the state Supreme Court ordered the commission to redraw the maps with fewer splits, Holt said.

The revised proposals contain about 50 percent fewer divisions, but Holt’s analysis showed 32 unnecessary divisions in the state Senate plan and 205 on the new House map….

read more at PA Independent

Pa. redistricting maps still don’t follow Constitution

Harrisburg Patriot-News Editorial Board, 5/3/12

The latest Pennsylvania House and Senate redistricting plans merit a C, which is certainly an improvement over the F they received before. It’s also far from the A grade maps that Pennsylvanians deserve.

The state Constitution gives clear instructions on how redistricting should be done: “Unless absolutely necessary no county, city, incorporated town, borough, township or ward shall be divided in forming either a senatorial or representative district.”

The key words are “unless absolutely necessary.” The state Supreme Court struck down the earlier maps because they cut up the state like Edward Scissorhands or Picasso might. Even the court felt the need to point out that districts that look like a “crooked finger,” “wishbone” and “iron cross” are clearly not necessary.

[click here for maps]: 2012 proposed maps

The revised maps tame the extremes, but they still include far more slices and crooked lines than necessary.

“I can only conclude the revised plan … needlessly sacrifices the Constitution on the altar of incumbent protection,” said Amanda Holt on Wednesday. Holt is the piano teacher from Allentown who was the driving force behind the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the prior proposals. …

read more at Harrisburg Patriot-News