Pennsylvania governor rejects Republican voting map proposal

By Daniel Uria  |  Feb. 13, 2018 at 9:46 PM
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Feb. 13 (UPI) -- Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf rejected a voting map proposed by Republican legislative leaders, saying it failed to resolve issues with the previous map.

Wolf, a Democrat, told the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Tuesday the new map is still a partisan gerrymander and doesn't comply with the court's order or Pennsylvania's Constitution.

"The analysis by my team shows that, like the 2011 map, the map submitted to my office by Republican leaders is still a gerrymander," Wolf said. "Their map clearly seeks to benefit one political party, which is the essence of why the court found the current map to be unconstitutional."

Wolf's ruling came after Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito last week denied Republicans' efforts to halt a Pennsylvania high court's ruling that requires the state to redraw its congressional map after Republicans won 13 of the state's 18 congressional seats since 2012.

A Jan. 22 ruling by the Democratic-dominant state justices ordered the legislature to redraw the borders and submit a plan to Wolf by Feb. 9 and the court by Feb. 15. If the deadlines aren't met, the court will draw its own map "based on the evidentiary record developed."

Top Republican leaders, Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati and House Speaker Mike Turzai, accused Wolf of trying to apply standards that were outside of the court's order and challenged him to produce his own map.

Republicans claimed this version of the map helped minimize the "confusion factor" by keeping 70 percent of voters in the same congressional district.

Wolf described the claim as "dubious at best."

"This serves no legal purpose, was not a requirement of the court and voters will have months and many means to obtain information on candidates and the districts before voting," he said.

Wolf also cited analysis by Tufts University Professor Moon Duchin, who compared the Republican map with millions of nonpartisan computer-generated maps and found the Republican proposal was heavily skewed in their favor.

"I concluded that the proposed Joint Submission Plan's bias in favor of Republicans is extremely unlikely to have come about by chance," Duchin wrote. "There is no more than a 0.1 percent chance that a plan drafted to comply with the Court's factors would have been as favorable to Republicans as is the proposed Joint Submission Plan."

Republican leaders met with Wolf Tuesday, but said they are reluctant to begin revising the map without first seeing a map from the governor.

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