Reshared from the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania

Testimony of Susan Gobreski, LWVPA Board Director for Government Policy 

Pennsylvania House State Government Committee
Congressional Redistricting
October 19, 2021


The work of the League of Women Voters is informed by foundational principles, beginning with the understanding that voting is a fundamental citizen right that must be guaranteed. For over a century, the League of Women Voters has fought to protect the rights of eligible voters and expand access for those who have been left out of our democratic process.

To that end, LWVPA supports laws that ensure that elections are accessible, transparent, fair, secure and promote universal voter participation, and provide voters with meaningful choices when they go to the polls.

A key imperative of that must be that the voters pick the legislators rather than the legislators picking the voters.  This is a foundation of both republican and democratic governance.  

The League of Women Voters has been a leader in the fight for a redistricting process that follows principles, including advocating for legislation that would provide legal principles for redistricting. We remain concerned that no such guidance exists.

As a matter of principle, the League of Women Voters does not believe that the political process is a war, and “to the victor go the spoils.”  Gerrymandering is quite simply, so cynical that it is toxic to a free and fair society; it is a form of corruption.  And it is not Constitutional.

Pennsylvania is one Commonwealth, not two teams.  We work together, we play Little League together, we shop, we drive on our roads together. We all pay the same prices for groceries and gas, we breathe the same air and drink the same water.

Every person in Pennsylvania should believe that every member of our Congressional delegation is likely to fight for us - for a responsive federal government.  Right now, you are the people with the most power to make sure that Pennsylvania is a stronger state regardless of which party has control of Congress.

The Court struck down the previous map because it prioritized partisan factors over neutral factors. The 2011 map drawing was an egregious mockery of the process. It was also an egregious case of “sore winning” - where political advantage was abused.  The losers were Pennsylvanians - our votes, our right to fair representation, our hard earned dollars and our trust.  We do not want that to happen again and we will be passionate champions for a fair process and a fair outcome.

Here is what we believe should guide the process:

  • Transparent and objective principles should be expressed and evident.

  • Maintain reasonable compactness; minimize the division of existing boundaries, like townships and municipalities.

  • Start with a blank canvas: the interests of voters require that you ignore incumbents. We know that isn’t easy for anyone, but it is the job.

  • Don't draw maps to lock in advantage for one party or person; avoid partisan bias.

What we will be looking for in proposed maps:

  • That it follows the imperatives stated and suggested by our Constitution

  • That the geography of maps make sense, with minimal division of existing governance structures (i.e. townships and municipalities);

  • Districts that reflect the proportion of registered voters - i.e. we will look for evidence of cracking and packing

  • That communities of people of color are not divided and diluted (nor “packed”)

  • That there is no discriminatory effect (intended or not) on voters for their political affiliation or preferences

  • That there is no punitive effect on voters for their political preferences or affiliations

  • A clear reliance on expert and citizen input.

  • Maximizing the number of competitive districts

Thank you for the opportunity to testify.  What stakeholders seek is fairness, to see key ideals take shape in the form of modern policy, to shift away from partisanship that has taken a hold of genuine discussion and debate and to have a chance to decide on our representation.

Reshared from the ACLU of Pennsylvania and the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania


OCTOBER 22, 2021

HARRISBURG - Eight voters and three community organizations took their argument to Commonwealth Court today in their effort to join a lawsuit challenging a subpoena issued by a state Senate committee to the Department of State seeking the personally identifying information of the approximately nine million registered voters in Pennsylvania.

The motion to intervene in the commonwealth’s lawsuit against two state senators and the committee was filed by eight voters and Common Cause Pennsylvania, the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania, and Make the Road Pennsylvania. The voters and advocates are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, and the law firm Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP.

If granted by Commonwealth Court Judge Mary Hannah Leavitt, the voters and advocates would become parties to the case, and their attorneys would be permitted to participate in court proceedings. They argue that their motion should be granted because the voters and the organizations’ members would be harmed and their constitutional right to privacy would be compromised if the department is forced to comply with the subpoena. They also argue that the other parties do not adequately represent their interests.

The following can be attributed to Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania:

“The law is clear that Pennsylvanians have a right to privacy that goes well beyond the structure of a person’s home. It encompasses their private personal information, including data that the senators are trying to obtain. The voters we represent have a direct interest in this case because it’s their information that will be disclosed if the subpoena stands. While the commonwealth is making a good faith effort to stop the subpoena, its interests are not the same as those of our clients. Our clients are the ones who will be harmed unless the courts block the release of this data.”

The following can be attributed to Roberta Winters, who is one of the voters seeking to intervene in the case. Ms. Winters is a registered voter from Delaware County and has twice been a victim of data breaches. She has also been the victim of identity theft, which led to her and her husband’s financial accounts being zeroed out by the perpetrator:

“I have learned the hard way about the reality of data breaches and identity theft. Those experiences were unsettling and difficult. Voters’ personal information shouldn’t simply be handed over to anyone who raises questions about our elections. I expect the courts to protect our right to privacy and think that we should be in this lawsuit to make sure that our interests are protected.”

The following can be attributed to Diana Robinson, civic engagement director of Make The Road Pennsylvania:

“Voting is the foundation of democracy. It is how our communities build power and representation. Make the Road PA encourages eligible voters to exercise this right every year. When voters give their private personal information in order to register to vote, they expect that information to stay private and be protected. This lawsuit is important to our communities because they have a right to vote and a right to privacy. If the subpoena is upheld, voters essentially would have to choose between these two constitutional rights, and we intend to stand up for the voters of Pennsylvania.”

The following can be attributed to Khalif Ali, executive director of Common Cause Pennsylvania:

“Pennsylvanians should be able to vote without worrying about whether our private personal information is going to be disclosed to politicians or some unknown, third-party vendor. So far this year, there have already been about 1,300 private-sector data breaches in the U.S. affecting almost 300 million people, and we do not want to be next. Common Cause Pennsylvania is concerned that this will have a chilling effect on people’s willingness to become registered to vote. Choosing between the right to vote and the chance of identity theft – that’s a choice no Pennsylvanian should ever have to make.”

The following can be attributed to Terrie Griffin, president of the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania:

“As an organization dedicated to providing voters with trusted, nonpartisan election information, the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania must put more time, money and effort into helping voters overcome the confusion and concerns caused by this election review. The League and our partners will continue to raise the interests of voters when their privacy becomes politicized.”

More information about this case is available at aclupa.org/Dush.

Source: oct22-testimony

Harrisburg, October 5, 2021.  Yesterday, the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania filed a petition in state court to join the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s lawsuit against state Senate Republicans’ attempt to obtain private information about the Commonwealth’s registered voters.

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