Under the Hat: Level Playing Field - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather, Events

Under the Hat: Level Playing Field

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The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ended about a dozen legal challenges this week by okaying a revised 10-year plan to redraw the state's political boundaries.

The first plan was considered to be too bizarre and convoluted; take one look at the approved plan and it's hard to believe there was one even worse.

This blueprint splits the state into 203 State House seats and is drawn into all kinds of strange shapes to put party strength together for those in power, in this case the Republicans.

At first glance it would appear that little thought has been given to keeping communities or even neighbors together.

In Erie County the 5th District which represents western Erie County is moving outside Reading.

Two lawmakers with power bases south of here will split that side of the County, and Edinboro moves into Millcreek's 3rd District.

That raises the possibility that two freshmen lawmakers, Ryan Bizzarro of Millcreek and Greg Lucas of Edinboro would have to face off against each other in 2014.

It was a politician from Boston named Gerry who first drew a strange looking political district to lump voters together.

Political cartoonists at the time thought the new district looked like a salamander, so the practice of drawing districts for political gain came to be known as Gerrymandering.

Setting the ground rules to make it nearly impossible for one party to win is not illegal, but it goes against everything I thought we stood for as a country that defends free and open elections.

And you can't even blame the politicians for being political. It's like asking a zebra to be a giraffe to say "Hey, draw the districts but don't do it in a way that helps you out."

There is currently a bill that would create a non-partisan redistricting commission. That's been tried before and lawmakers have always been reluctant to give up the power to control the game.

But it's the right thing to do, if we really want to believe that our election process is on a level playing field..


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