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Photo: Governor Tom Wolf
Photo: Governor Tom Wolf

PA district maps aim to shape the future for the state's multicultural population

Pennsylvania legislature voted in favor of redrawing district lines, as the BIPOC population grows.

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District maps are to be presented before PA government leaders in January. A large influence on their decision to redraw district lines is the outpacing growth of multicultural communities throughout the state.

The PA legislature met Thursday, Dec. 16 to vote on mapping new House and Senate districts. A change to how the 18 districts form is said to shift the way politics currently rule in both chambers. 

New maps have the potential to impact the state’s Republican majority who hold most seats since 2014. Reappropriation of the districts would then determine how 203 House and 50 Senate seats weigh for upcoming years.

The Latino and multicultural population in Pennsylvania has caused the state to reconsider the current layout, as the community more than doubled in several counties since the 2010 U.S. Census.

House Minority Leader Joanna McClinton, D-Philadelphia, told NBC10 the new maps would represent a growth of “800,000 multiracial people in the last decade” compared to a decrease of “540,000 people among the white population.”

“This preliminary House map is representative of the Commonwealth as it is today and allows for equal participation in the electoral process," said McClinton to the station.

Hispanics are among the fastest-growing racial groups to reside in Pennsylvania. With immigration of family members and moving from other states, the numbers do not accurately represent this reality.

Diversity index for PA increased from 54.9% to 61.1% in the 2020 Census. Latinos now make up 18.7% of the state population.

Action News took a closer look at the Hispanic population in Philadelphia and PA in September. They charted the progressing shift in every state county since 2000.

Due to the pandemic, a decline in birth rates temporarily slowed Pennsylvania’s diversity growth, but projections expect a rate twice as much in the next census. 

The process of redrawing maps only happens once every 10 years. Some PA political leaders believe now is the time to make the changes with the supporting data.

On Thursday, the meeting resulted in a 5-0 vote for the Senate and a 3-2 vote for the House. Leaders are expected to work quickly as the Pennsylvania primary elections kick off on May 17.

The new maps have to reach a deadline of Jan. 24, 2022 to be examined by political figures.

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