York County Democratic women talk nonpartisan re-redistricting

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Redistricting is a nonpartisan issue for the York County Federation of Democratic Women.

"Gerrymandering may not be the leading cause of political polarization, and eliminating it may not necessarily increase legislative competitiveness," said federation president Deborah Yonick, "but partisan redistricting amplifies partisan divides."

Deb Yonick leads chants as hundreds gather during March For Our Lives, a rally to end gun violence, in York City, Saturday, March 24, 2018. Dawn J. Sagert photo

At the group's March 31 meeting, members will welcome a speaker from Fair Districts PA, a nonpartisan, citizen-led, statewide coalition seeking to reform the state's redistricting rules, according to a news release.

Jayne M. Buchwach, the southcentral regional coordinator for Fair Districts, will talk about pending bipartisan bills in the state assembly, the landmark Pennsylvania Supreme Court case and the lead-up to the 2020 Census.

The Supreme Court case deemed the 2011 congressional district map unconstitutional, leading the courts to redraw it, but district lines will be drawn again after the upcoming census, the Fair Districts website states.

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"If it follows the same process as last time," the site reads, "the 2021 map is likely to be gerrymandered, too — regardless of which party is in power."

Yonick said she doesn't yet know how the current redrawing will play out — it could be good in some areas and not so good in others — but the federation hopes Buchwach will shed some light on what has happened and get the group up to speed for looking ahead to 2020.

"From what I’ve read, statistical voting models of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s new plan show Democrats could cut into the GOP’s 13-5 seat advantage in Pennsylvania, where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans," Yonick wrote in an email.

But it's not about winning back Democratic advantage; it's about ensuring district lines accurately depict the population — whether Democrat or Republican, she added.

"It has to be a nonpartisan thing," she said. "I think all of us want to see — no matter which party you're in — we want to see it done in a fair way."

"The more a district reflects those shared values of the community, the better served the voters will be because they will be voting to put in place somebody who represents more than just a (Republican) or (Democrat,)" Yonick wrote.

Some Republican state lawmakers have been seeking to impeach the majority Democratic justices behind the Supreme Court ruling, according to Yonick.

More:York legislators join effort to impeach Democratic state Supreme Court justices

"I agree with the Republican chief justice of the (state) Supreme Court, who called it 'an attack upon an independent judiciary,'" she wrote.

As far as redistricting goes, Yonick said there's unfortunately no good time to do it. Any time lines are redrawn, candidates running in their respective races have to meet new people, often undoing progress they have made during months of preparation.

That being said, she feels having a fair map is essential before the next presidential election.

The York County Federation of Democratic Women meeting is open to the public. It will be held at noon Saturday, March 31, preceded by a lunch at 11:30 a.m., at Meadow Hill Restaurant, 2935 East Prospect Road in Windsor Township.