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House, Senate Redistricting Comes to a Close in Pennsylvania

by Emily Scott, Keystone State News Connection

Mar 22, 2022

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, rejected legal challenges to new state House and Senate maps last week, finalizing the legislative redistricting process.

The chair of the commission tasked with drafting the maps said he believes the districts fairly represent residents. The Legislative Reapportionment Commission, in a 4 to 1 bipartisan vote in February, approved the maps, which include 203 House districts and 50 Senate districts.

Mark Nordenberg, nonpartisan chair of the panel, said the commission made an effort to host a record number of public hearings, despite delays in receiving U.S. Census data.

“I do think that these maps will serve the people of the Commonwealth well for the next decade,” Nordenberg asserted. “That seems to be the consensus view from the good-government groups and the leaders of minority groups, too.”

Rep. Kerry Benninghoff, R-Centre/Mifflin, is a member of the commission who voted against the maps. He said in a statement the court decision will “artificially create a Democrat majority in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives through deliberate racial and political gerrymandering.”

The U.S. Census Bureau recently announced the 2020 census undercounted Black people and Native Americans, with Latinos having a net undercount rate of nearly 5%.

Nordenberg acknowledged some undercounts were expected because of the pandemic, but are still disappointing.

“You work hard to key your redistricting efforts to the census results that come from the federal government,” Nordenberg explained. “We are required to do that. That news makes it all the more important that we did try to create minority-influence districts.”

The new maps created majority-Latino districts in Philadelphia, Reading and Allentown. The state’s Latino population grew by 45% between 2010 and 2020, according to census data, and its Asian population grew by 46%.

Candidates running for legislative office in Pennsylvania have until next Monday to submit their nomination petitions.


La Corte Suprema de Pensilvania rechazo la semana pasada las impugnaciones legales a los nuevos mapas estatales de la Camara y el Senado, finalizando el proceso legislativo de redistribucion de distritos.

El presidente de la comision encargada de redactar los mapas dice que los distritos representan a los residentes de manera justa. La Comision de Redistribucion Legislativa voto 4 a 1 en febrero para aprobar los mapas, el cual incluye 203 distritos de la Camara y 50 distritos del Senado.

Mark Nordenberg, presidente no partidista del panel de cinco miembros, dice que la comision hizo un esfuerzo por organizar una cantidad record de audiencias publicas, a pesar de las demoras para recibir los datos del censo de EE. UU.

“Creo que estos mapas serviran bien a la gente del Commonwealth durante la proxima decada,” asegura Nordenberg. “Eso parece ser la opinion consensuada entre los grupos de buen gobierno y los lideres de los grupos minoritarios.”

El representante republicano Kerry Benninghoff, R-Centre/Mifflin, es miembro de la comision que voto en contra de los mapas. El dijo en un comunicado que la decision de la corte “creara artificialmente una mayoria democrata en la Camara de Representantes de Pensilvania, a traves de manipulaciones raciales y politicas deliberadas.”

La Oficina del Censo de EE. UU. anuncio recientemente que el censo de 2020 no conto a la comunidad negra y nativo americana, y los latinos tuvieron un conteo insuficiente de casi el 5%.

Nordenberg dice que se esperaban estos recuentos insuficientes debido a la pandemia, pero aun asi son decepcionantes.

“Trabajas arduamente para adaptar los esfuerzos de redistribucion de distritos a los resultados del censo que provienen del gobierno federal,” explica Nordenberg. “Estamos obligados a hacerlo. Eso hace que sea aun mas importante que intentemos crear distritos de influencia minoritaria.”

Los nuevos mapas crearon distritos mayoritariamente latinos en Filadelfia, Reading y Allentown. La poblacion latina del estado crecio un 45% entre 2010 y 2020, segun datos del censo, y la poblacion asiatica crecio un 46%.

Los candidatos que se postulan para cargos legislativos en Pensilvania tienen hasta el proximo lunes para presentar sus peticiones de nominacion.

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