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Speakers outline path for government reform


Carol Kuniholm, co-founder and chair of Fair Districts PA, and Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick, provided updates on work to reform government and the consequences of unfettered gerrymandering Feb. 16.

Hosted by the League of Women Voters of Bucks County, the program was presented to over 60 community members at the Free Library of Northampton Township.

Kuniholm explained how Pennsylvania repeatedly ranks among the worse, if not the worse, in studies looking at responsiveness to voters. State rankings show that gerrymandering in Pennsylvania, compounded by the state’s porous campaign financing, and voter registration laws, led to the state being ranked 49th in their Electoral Integrity Score, among other reports.

The challenge in the courts to the 2010 Congressional districts resulted in a temporary reprieve from gerrymandered Congressional districts.

But, following the next census in 2020, the Congressional and state legislative districts will be redrawn in the same partisan, behind-closed-doors manner, unless action is taken, the League says.

With the support of the grassroots Fair Districts PA, state legislators in a bipartisan effort, have introduced two new bills to address gerrymandering, House Bill 22 and 23.

Congressman Fitzpatrick reflected on his work for the FBI that exposed corruption and crime as another consequence of gerrymandered districts. Gridlock in Washington has worsened as a result of uncompetitive districts, he said.

Fitzpatrick cautioned the audience that the First Congressional District in Pennsylvania is one of only 35 districts, among 435, that are still considered competitive.

Kuniholm explained that the focus of outside money and influence to control the gerrymandering in Pennsylvania will be more intense, especially as a loss of population will require redrawn districts following the next census.

Fair Districts PA is advocating for an independent citizens commission to redraw district lines. Citizens can participate by signing the online petition on Fair Districts PA website and helping to educate voters at the polls. Said Kuniholm, “Without change of the redistricting process, nothing else changes,” and she advised that every voter, no matter their issues of concern, should be made aware of the problems with the state processes.

Summing up the motivation of volunteers to address these issues, Kuniholm stated, “If you are not angry, you are not paying attention.”

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