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Pennsylvania’s proposed congressional district map prompts reaction

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Governor Tom Wolf is expected to make a decision Thursday, February 15th, about the redrawn congressional districts.

State Republican leaders delivered an updated map to his office Friday night.

However , the governor isn't the only one giving the proposed congressional map a closer look.

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

Could this proposed new map of congressional districts end the gerrymandering debate in Pennsylvania?

League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania executive director Suzanne Almeida said "it's better but it's not good enough, there's still a lot of partisan gerrymandering, there are fewer splits, but still too many."

The League of Women Voters filed a lawsuit in 2017, on the grounds that it believes Pennsylvania's current district map for who gets elected to Congress, gives Republicans an unfair advantage. As a result of that case, the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court ordered state legislative leaders to come up with a new one.

"It's easy to see that there's no more 'Goofy kicking Donald Duck,' so that is a flashpoint that no longer exists in this new map, but Montgomery County is still split into four pieces. Berks County is still split into three pieces," Almeida said.

Chief counsel to GOP Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, Drew Compton said "The leaders proposed map complies with all the requirements in the majority opinion. The districts are compact. The districts limit splits dramatically. The districts comply with the voting rights act. Confusion for voters has been minimized. Our proposed map is absolutely constitutional as prescribed by the state Supreme Court."

Dickinson College assistant professor of political science David O'Connell said "the map is more compact than currently the state's districting has been. Also at the same time, they've minimized to some extent the number of split counties, and split towns, but at the end of the day, I think the democrats concerns about this map are justified."

"The Republicans tried to create a map that looks like its fairer, a better map. At the end of the day still is in their interests, which makes sense, because they drew this map without any consultation from the Democratic Party," O'Connell said.

O'Connell believes that although the map looks different, some things remain the same.

"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.

Some may wonder just how much of a difference does the map make.

"Gerrymandering is an easy thing to blame for some of the problems we don't like about American politics, but it's not exclusively responsible for some of those problems," O'Connell said.

"It absolutely has nothing to do with who's in power. This is about a bad map, and its about voters in Pennsylvania not being able to have an equal right to vote for the people that they want," Almeida said.

O'Connell believes the proposed map would probably still generate 12 or 13 seats in Congress for Republicans.‚Äč

There's is one other thing that potentially could be in candidates favor.

"Across the country, 95 percent of members of the House of Representatives regularly go on to win re-election. If you take these incumbants that are currently representing districts in Pennsylvania, put them in new districts that are drawn in a different way, they'll still have the advantage," O'Connell said.