House & Senate maps - concerns re Phila. & SE PA

Dear Chairman Nordenberg and the LRC, I have lived in Pennsylvania since 2013, in Philadelphia. For the entire time I have been here, I have been dismayed by the horrendous gerrymandering of the state’s legislative districts, which result in under-representation for my community and in one party having legislative majorities that far outstrip the strength of its support across the state as a whole. It is critical to the legitimacy of our democracy that the current redistricting process remedy these inequities. I am a member of the Pennsylvania Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. We are 40 synagogues comprising about 40,000 souls, and Jewish communities across the commonwealth uniting to advocate for fair and racially equitable legislative maps. Jewish sacred legal text teaches “a ruler is not to be appointed unless the community is first consulted.” Our faith calls us to advocate for maps that will provide all Pennsylvanians, especially marginalized groups and racial minorities, with adequate representation. We would like to express our gratitude to the LRC for your hard work and your efforts to improve the redistricting process. Thank you for holding hearings and making the process more transparent than in years past. We are especially grateful for your consideration and attention to racial equity. It is heartening to see maps that reflect the growth in communities of color and give minority voters more representation than in years past. We are paying close attention to the final map release and trust that you will follow through with your commitment to creating minority opportunity districts and to taking community comments into account. We urge you not to give in to partisan pressure to backslide on the improvements to ending partisan gerrymandering and creating opportunity districts in the House and to make necessary changes to Senate and certain House districts. I urge you to make two significant changes to promote fair representation for communities within Philadelphia and Southeast Pennsylvania. First, in Philadelphia, despite explicit feedback from many citizens and organizations, including PA Voice, the Senate maps do little to provide fair representation for Latinos. In Philadelphia, the Latino community is split among four districts, whereas the People’s Maps (created by Fair Districts PA) created an opportunity district in this area. As the Latino population in the commonwealth has grown exponentially, we are yet to see a Latino State Senator. I urge you to correct this injustice that has prevailed for too long by creating an additional majority minority district in Philadelphia. Second, the LRC’s Senate map does not adequately represent shifts that have occurred in PA’s population over the last ten years, in particular the declining population in rural/western communities and growing population in more central and eastern cities. The Senate map distributes the population inequitably, penalizing urban residents and minority communities. I urge you to correct this malapportionment and vote dilution by creating more districts in Southeastern PA. Specifically, in Southwest and Central PA, the Senate map draws many districts with populations significantly below what might be expected, while in Southeast PA, several districts are drawn with populations larger than one would expect. This means that individual voters in Southeast PA have less clout. The standard deviation percentages are horrible, seeming to favor rural areas and almost erasing any changes that should have taken place due to the reallocation of prisoners that was voted on earlier last year. I urge you to correct this major flaw in the Senate maps. Sincerely, Lawrence Levine