CAMBRIA COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — The Great Pennsylvania Voteswagon Tour of 2021, a month-long journey to dozens of communities, stopped at Johnstown in an effort to emphasize the damaging impact gerrymandering has on fair elections.
“Gerrymandering divides communities,” David Thornburgh, president and CEO of the Committee of Seventy, said in front of Coney Island. “It makes some votes count more than others. It makes some elections almost a mockery because they have predetermined results.”
Every 10 years, there is a redistricting, or re-drawing, of political boundaries, and gerrymandering is the manipulation of those boundaries for electoral advantage. During this year’s redistricting, Pennsylvania will lose a district, leaving it with 17 instead of 18.
Thornburgh explained that if you draw a district in such a way that it heavily benefits one party, then the other party has no chance.
“It’s not red or blue,” Cambria County Commissioner Tom Chernisky said. “It’s about red, white and blue. It’s about getting things right, and gerrymandering is not good business.”
Thornburgh compared elections to job interviews. He said the way gerrymandering has worked in the past, it’s allowed the applicants for the job to choose people on the hiring committee because you get to choose your voters.
“There’s no hiring process I’ve ever known that works that way,” Thornburgh said. “It’s been harmful.”
To better understand redistricting, you can visit Draw The Line’s PA’s website and try to draw your own voting districts across the Commonwealth. Your map can also be submitted by June 1 as an entry to their competition, which offers cash prizes for best entries.
For more information on gerrymandering, you can also visit their “Gerrymandering 101” page.
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