U.S. Supreme Court Rejects Republican Appeal of New Pennsylvania Congressional Map

CNN: “The Supreme Court has denied a request from Pennsylvania Republicans to block new congressional maps that could tilt several key races in Democrats’ favor from being used in the midterm elections.” The new map was imposed by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court after the state’s governor and legislature failed to come up with a replacement for the previous map, which the court had declared unconstitutional; see previous entry.

Meanwhile, last month Wired published a piece that looks at how experts used math and computer simulations to prove to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that the congressional map exhibited partisan bias. It’s an interesting look at some interesting methodologies.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Imposes New Congressional Map

New congressional districts for Pennsylvania (Pennsylvania Supreme Court)

A major development yesterday in the case of Pennsylvania’s gerrymandered congressional electoral district map, which was thrown out as unconstitutional last month by the state’s supreme court. The legislature and governor having failed to submit a new electoral district map by the  court’s deadline, the court has imposed what it calls a remedial plan, drawing a new congressional electoral district boundaries for the state of Pennsylvania (court documents). These boundaries will take effect in the primary vote next May, but not next month’s special election.

The general consensus is that the map is more favourable to Democrats than the Democrats’ own proposals: under this map, for example, Clinton would have won the vote in eight seats to Trump’s ten; under the old map, she won the vote in six to Trump’s twelve. Republicans are already planning an appeal. The New York Times does a map-heavy deep dive into the new district boundaries: which areas they include and exclude, and their electoral implications.

Suddenly rendered moot, but still worth pointing to: Philly.com’s  interactive comparison of congressional map proposals. There were a lot of them, before the court put its foot down yesterday, and this website is a similarly deep dive, analyzing each rigorously.

Redrawing Congressional Districts in Pennsylvania

The New York Times

In gerrymandering news, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court threw out the state’s congressional district map earlier this week, ordering the 18 districts—which have been called some of the most gerrymandered in the United States—to be redrawn in time for the 2018 elections. The New York Times explores how the Pennsylvania map could be redrawn in two ways: “One is a neutral map, the kind that might be drawn by a nonpartisan committee. The other is an adventure in extreme gerrymandering that aims to maximize the number of Republican-held seats.” (See above.) Meanwhile, if you live in the state, you might want to take a crack at remapping the districts yourself. Draw the Lines, a project by a nonpartisan watchdog group called the Committee of Seventy, will be holding a contest to redraw the state’s districts later this year.

Burial Records Move from Window-Blind Maps to Digital Database

Nick Malawskey of Pennlive.com has the story of how the Newport Cemetery digitized its burial records, which had previously been recorded as hand-drawn maps on the back of window blinds.

It was, to say the least, an imperfect system. Caretakers essentially acted as the cemetery’s librarians, but without a Dewey Decimal system to guide them. Numbers were not necessarily sequential, or the system shifted over the years, making the maps essential to finding the older graves. And as time rolled on, the maps began to deteriorate, fraying at the edges or cracking apart.

[WMS]