The third time might be a charm, but not for York County.
Tasked with redrawing House and Senate district maps after each Census, the state's Legislative Reapportionment Commission is taking another crack at it, after the state Supreme Court threw out an earlier, heavily gerrymandered version.
The January ruling caused headaches for candidates who had already started campaigning under the new maps, and some were no longer even in the districts they intended to represent when the decision was finally made to use the previous maps for this election.
Article II of the state Constitution clearly states legislative districts "shall be composed of compact and contiguous territory as nearly equal in population as practicable. ... Unless absolutely necessary no county, city, incorporated town, borough, township or ward shall be divided in forming either a senatorial or representative district."
The GOP-crafted map struck down by the high court because it was "contrary to law" was actually an improvement over an earlier proposal.
That version was laughably gerrymandered -- an example being the proposed boundaries of state Sen. Jeffrey Piccola's 15th District -- a ridiculous "C" that snaked through five counties, including York.
It drew such an outcry, even from some Republicans, that the second attempt was made.
Although it was eventually ruled unconstitutional, it would have improved York County's clout in Harrisburg, putting roughly half of the 15th Senate District here.
Before the redistricting, our county was represented by five state senators, but only one -- Mike Waugh, R-Shrewsbury -- was based solely in York. The others, including Piccola, represented small portions of York County, but lived elsewhere.
Since York is one of the fastest-growing counties in the state, we had hoped for another district based completely here. That would have increased our influence in the Legislature, allowing our lawmakers to bring home more state dollars for capital projects here and advance agendas specific to our area.
Although Waugh would still have been the only York County resident in the state Senate, the planned boundaries would have made it more likely we could have elected a second.
The new version approved by the reapportionment commission shifts the 15th entirely outside York County. The five municipalities now part of the 15th -- Conewago and Newberry townships and Goldsboro, Lewisberry and York Haven -- will go to other districts.
York County will be represented by four senators -- all but Waugh based in other counties.
Like Piccola's 15th District, state Sen. Lloyd Smucker's 13th District in Lancaster will no longer contain portions of York County.
Yet, strangely, we've been added to the 48th District, which will stretch from Springettsbury Township all the way to Lebanon.
As York County Democratic Party chair Bob Kefauver said, the commission substituted "really, really bad maps" for "really bad maps."
He doesn't consider the changes much of an improvement -- and neither do we.
But who knows? A majority of the state Supreme Court justices have already shown a willingness to call "bull" when they see it.
Maybe they'll continue to do so until the commission gets it right.