Nobody likes the PA redistricting process, but there also doesn’t seem to be much of a consensus about what districting should try to do.
Some people are upset that there are so few politically competitive districts, and think we should try to make maps that are less favorable to one party or the other.
Other people don’t want to see subdivisions like counties or municipalities split into different state or federal political districts, because that frustrates those places’ ability to speak with a clear and unified voice on which economic policies benefit their regions.
Other people have process complaints and want to limit lawmakers’ ability to choose their own voters, rather than the other way around.
The increased sorting of the population into homogenous partisan groups (Democrats dominate places with 800 people per square mile or more, and Republicans dominate lower density exurban and rural areas) creates some real tension between the first and the second goals.
If the towns and counties themselves are becoming more homogenous party-wise, how do you draw competitive districts without splitting them up?
I think this shows clearly that the whole idea of districting has become absurd, and we should move toward a party-list proportional representation system.
Let each party come up with a list of 18 House candidates from all over the state (which has the benefit of allowing urban Republicans and rural Democrats to stand a chance on the ballot) and then let people rank the 18 House candidates they like in order.
You can come up with various process reforms to make the current system better, but none of them address the problem that the actual sorting of voters into like-minded towns makes it tough to draw competitive districts that don’t fragment regions. Unless we’re going to forcibly relocate voters into bipartisan communities, we’ll have to choose between breaking up regions and having competitive elections.
It’s actually a false choice though, and we can avoid it by scrapping the district system and adopting party-list proportional representation.