Katherine Dodge of Lake Township formally requested her board of supervisors, April 3, to pass a resolution in support of a Citizen’s Commission for Legislative and Congressional Redistricting.

LAKE ARIEL - Katherine Dodge of Lake Township formally requested her board of supervisors, April 3, to pass a resolution in support of a Citizen’s Commission for Legislative and Congressional Redistricting.

This is part of a statewide campaign by Fair Districts PA, nonpartisan, citizen-led coalition working to create a redistricting process that is transparent, impartial and fair.

As it stands now, state legislators are in charge of redrawing voting districts to reflect population changes. Dodge said that the result has led to gerrymandering, the practice of manipulating voting districts to benefit parties. Party leaders are able to choose their voters rather than voters choosing their elected officials.

Practiced by both parties, gerrymandering removes the incentive for legislators to compromise, she said. this leads to gridlock and polarization. “They feel safe in ignoring issues that matter to their constituents,” Dodge said. “Incumbents often go unopposed, as potential candidates come to the conclusion that it’s too difficult t mount  campaign in these districts, and people are left with less or no choice at the polls.”

There are currently bipartisan, companion bills in the PA House and Senate, which wold create an Independent Citizens’ Commission,” Dodge stated. Senate Bill 22, introduced by a Republican and a Democrat, has 107 co-sponsors, a majority of the house of representatives.

“So far Representative Fritz and Senator Baker have not signed on, but we are hoping to change their minds,” Dodge said.

While the recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling ordered the federal congressional maps to be redrawn before the next election, she added that permanent, bipartisan reform is needed that addresses state legislative maps as well.

Thirteen Pennsylvania counties and approximately 161 municipalities statewide have already passed the resolution. The include Monroe, Luzerne and Wyoming Counties; Wilkes-Barre City, Vandling Borough, Honesdale Borough, Herrick and Clifford Townships in Susquehanna County, and Scranton City.

She urged Lake Township to join the list of governmental bodies that have passed the resolution and to encourage a “yes” vote on SB 22 and HB 722 before the end of June. This would enable a constitutional amendment to be enacted before the 2020 census and re-districting process, Dodge said.

The supervisors tabled the matter for review, until the May meeting.

For more information online, visit www.fairdistrictspa.com.