Redistricting is the process through which elective districts (House, Senate and congressional) are redrawn in order to provide that districts are as equal as possible, based on population. In Pennsylvania, the House and Senate districts are drawn by a Legislative Reapportionment Commission. This year, for the first time, you can follow along with the process as it evolves.
The LRC website—www.redistricting.state.pa.us—went live this past Thursday. It contains information about the redistricting process, information about the Legislative Reapportionment Commission created by the state Constitution, access to the geography and population data used for redistricting, interactive maps, and more. You can also see video of meetings and get ongoing updates on the process.
The PA Constitution requires that the legislative districts for the House of Representatives and the State Senate be redrawn each decade, after the federal census is done. This process is mandated so that each citizen's vote ultimately carries the same weight in the ballot box.
Congressional redistricting is not handled by the Legislative Reapportionment Commission. Instead, the boundaries of Congressional seats are redrawn by legislative action – a bill with the new boundaries must be passed by both chambers and signed into law by the Governor. Historically, those plans have been referred to the state government committee in each chamber.
Now that the census population data has been received by the Commission, they have 90 days to file a preliminary reapportionment plan with the elections officer of the Commonwealth. The Commission will also be holding two public hearings on the plan—the first will be on Sept. 7 in Allentown and the second will be on Sept. 14 in Pittsburgh. More information will be available on the website as details emerge.