As deadline nears, Latino group contests Pa. legislative map

    Monday is the last day opponents of Pennsylvania’s latest redistricting plan can file a court challenge.

    As it stands, state House and Senate elections are being based on last decade’s districts. But one group is aiming to change that as soon as possible.

     

    After its first set of maps was thrown out by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, a state panel has finished a second redistricting plan.

    If the latest proposal is approved in court, it will apply to elections in 2014.

    But that’s not soon enough for a New York-based litigation group advocating for Latinos.

    Latino Justice is asking a federal judge to call special elections for next year based on whatever up-to-date redistricting plan is approved.

    Nancy Trasande, a lawyer with the group, says elections this fall will be based on district boundaries that don’t reflect the growth of the Latino population in Pennsylvania.

    “The harm is that, basically, you’re being disenfranchised. The Latino vote is being diluted for that period of time and it’s not constitutional,” she said.

    But what if elections were arranged for next year, and the redistricting plan were again rejected?

    In that case, Trasande agrees, Latino Justice would be asking the court to make the redistricting panel do by 2013 what it hasn’t been able to do yet — submit a plan that passes court muster.

    Several other groups, incluiding one headed by former Philadelphia Councilman Angel Ortiz, also have filed suit seeking special elections in 2013.

    The principles represented in the lawsuit are of great importance to the Latino community, Ortiz said last week.

    “It sends a message that a community that is growing is asserting and willing to fight for their rights. We grew over 50 percent, we gave Philadelphia the first growth in population and we’re still with one state representative,” he says. “So these lines are not legal, period.”

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