Proposed GOP map would affect 3rd, 5th districts

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Proposed GOP map would affect 3rd, 5th districts

The court threw out the Republican-drawn 2011 congressional map, ruling that districts "clearly, plainly and palpably" violate the state's constitution.

Pennsylvania's Democratic governor has rejected a congressional map proposed by top Republicans in the state legislature to replace a heavily gerrymandered map struck down in court, calling the new map a partisan gerrymander meant to maintain Republicans' advantage.

The ongoing controversy stems from a challenge brought against Pennsylvania's gerrymandered Congressional lines a year ago by 18 Democratic voters from around the state who alleged the current maps - in use since 2011 - violate the state Constitution's guarantee of "free and equal" elections.

Under terms of a January 22 court order, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf has until Thursday to tell the justices if the General Assembly has produced a map he supports.

Republican leaders in both houses took a challenge of the high court's order to re-draw the maps to the U.S. Supreme Court which refused to hear the appeal. But Corman says there's no time under the court's deadlines for Pennsylvania's Legislature to pass a new map. In a statement, Duchin said she calculated there was a 1-in-1,000 chance that a map drafted to comply with the court's order would result in such a large advantage for Republicans. The new maps have to be accepted by the governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Wolf, who is a Democrat. The map manages to keep 70 percent of voters in their original Congressional District.

Following the release of the proposed map, Pennsylvania Democrats immediately pushed back on the new lines and urged the governor to reject it. Holder is now leading the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, an effort to counteract Republican efforts to use the redistricting process to increase their majorities in Congress.

Not everyone may be completely happy with how Republican leaders redrew the congressional district lines for Pennsylvania.

The Supreme Court had also criticized the number of counties and municipalities split between multiple congressional districts. They could consider proposals by Wolf, state lawmakers and other parties to the gerrymandering case.

"I think the Democrats concerns about this map are justified, because if you look at the distribution of votes in 2016, and then compare it to what that distribution of votes would be in these new districts, the Republican Party would perform just about the same", O'Connell said.

"He does have some leverage and the leverage that the governor has is "hey if I don't approve this it does go to the Supreme Court" and they might come up with a resolution that's even worse for Republicans", said Borick. "He wants to shut the representatives of the people of Pennsylvania out of this process, and he wants seven [people] in robe, really four people in robe, to draw a map", Corman said. Their new map's congressional districts are more compact, share common borders, differ in population by no more than one person and split up far fewer towns and counties than the existing map.

The 7th and 15th Congressional Districts would no longer include parts of Berks.

In fact the 6th District was cited in testimony before the supreme court by resident of Exeter Township in Berks County as an example of gerrymandering.

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