As 2020 Census results loom, former Pa. governor’s son travels the state to raise awareness of gerrymandering

Written by on April 15, 2021

 As 2020 Census results loom, former Pa. governor’s son travels the state to raise awareness of gerrymandering

By Tyler Pratt

April 15, 2021

Lehigh County residents, former Lehigh County Commissioner Amanda Holt, David Thornburgh and Lehigh County Executive Phillips Armstrong stand in front of the Allentown replica of the Liberty Bell. Photo | Tyler Pratt / WLVR

Pennsylvania can begin the process of redrawing state legislative and congressional districts this year once the results of the 2020 Census are released. The first numbers, including the state’s population, are expected at the end of April. 

Listen to the story.

David Thornburgh, son of former Gov. Dick Thornburgh, is trekking across the commonwealth to raise awareness of how the once-a-decade process works. 

Thornburgh, managing director of Draw the Lines PA and president and chief executive officer of the Committee of Seventy, rang a replica of the Liberty Bell at the Liberty Bell Museum in Allentown on April 14.

David Thrornburgh shows kids a puzzle map that showcases the infamous former district lines of Pennsylvania’s 7th, nicknamed “Goofy Kicking Donald Duck” Photo | Tyler Pratt / WLVR

“Too often in the past citizens have been deprived of the liberty to participate in the process of deciding how they should be represented,” Thornburgh said. 

He showed a group of kids a map of old Pennsylvania congressional districts, specifically pointing out the gerrymandered 7th District, drawn in 2011 by the Republican-led legislature. It became known nationally as “Goofy kicking Donald Duck” for its shape.  One child commented, “It looks like dragonsaurus.”

Gerrymandered districts can cut through communities, and favor one party or class. Thornburg is pushing to have more public input and oversight in remapping the commonwealth. 

he Draw the Lines PA “Votewagon,” parked outside the Liberty Bell Church in Allentown, is touring the commonwealth to raise awareness of the redistricting process.

“Open the window, pull back the drapes, bring the cameras in,” Thornbrugh said. “Let’s make this the most transparent process of drawing that we’ve ever seen in Pennsylvania.”  

The state commission in charge of redistricting will include a citizen. Public hearings on the process should begin later this year. 

Thornborugh traveled through the Lehigh Valley on April 14 and included a stop at the SteelStacks in Bethlehem. 

Draw the Lines PA  provides resources and data for voters and students to learn how election maps are drawn

“There’s an enormous power in drawing those maps and citizens should have a right and a responsibility to contribute to that process,” Thornburgh said. 

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