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Schuylkill County voters support redistricting reform bills

MAHANOY CITY, SCHUYLKILL COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) -- The issue of gerrymandering raised it's head again today.  On the heels of the governor, lawmakers and the state supreme court re-drawing political districts several weeks ago - a public campaign is now underway to make even more changes.

Signs reading gerrymandering cuts voters out,  ut we can change that, flooded Senator David Argall's office in Mahanoy City Friday.

"Pennsylvania is not giving every voter an equal voice," said Diana Beausang, a Pottsville resident.

Beausang leads the effort in addressing what she calls a flawed system. The problem?  Gerrymandering, which is the manipulation of political district boundaries to favor one party. This group with Fair Districts PA says the solution lies in two redistricting reform bills -- PA Senate Bill 22 and State House Bill 722 -- which call for an end to gerrymandering, and the appointment of an impartial, independent citizen commission.


"What we want to do is fix the future," said Beausang.

And the future is fast approaching. Redistricting will happen again after the 2020 census. Making now the time for change.

This group says they've already met with state representatives Jerry Knowles, Mike Tobash and Neal Goodman -- getting them to agree to co-sponsor HB 722. Now, they're taking a shot at Argall who so far isn't supporting the senate version.

Handwritten post cards cover this table in Senator Argall's office. More than 100 cards -- signed by local voters.

"Those post cards have democrats and republicans signing it because they look at gerrymandering and say this is not right this is wrong," said a supporter of th bills.

Argall says there needs to be a better way to draw up legislative and congressional maps than the gerrymandering we've seen in the past.


"We agree on the goal. But the devil is still in the details on how do we get to that goal," said Argall.

He says it's a very difficult issue to move ahead on.

"This may be one of those issues where there is no perfect solution. So rather than going for perfect, we may have to accept just a few steps better," he said.

To amend the constitution, one of those bills needs to be passed by both houses this summer. Then again next year. After that, the bill would go to a public referendum.

 


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