KEYSTONE CROSSROADS – Days before Pennsylvania’s primary election, about 25 Democrats gathered for a meeting a few blocks away from the border of two recently reshaped congressional districts in North Philadelphia.
On a table with campaign literature, flyers that said, “re-elect Congressman Dwight Evans” were neatly tucked away and replaced with others that support Congressman Brendan Boyle.
Shirley Gregory, a neighborhood leader for the local Democratic Party, called the meeting at one of the Community College of Philadelphia’s satellite campuses to discuss last-minute logistics before the election.
About two and half months ago, the area she represents was moved into a different congressional district that includes voters from the opposite side of the city.
“I just want everyone to know that there is mass confusion in this congressional race,” said Gregory. “I think that to have the ward meetings is going to help clear up the problems.”
Gregory’s volunteers have been leading a grassroots effort to spread the word to voters about the change in the district.
Both Republicans and Democrats expect some party members to show up to the polls on Tuesday and be surprised to learn that their congressional district has changed.
In February, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overhauled the state’s congressional map after finding the old version an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander. The court dramatically changed the geography of all 18 districts — renumbering most of them.
Political analysts expect the changes to help Democrats in a year that some observers say the party could take control of the U.S. House of Representatives.
That may be why Republicans have been most vocal about how the court’s decision could cause voter confusion.
“You go to the polls and you thought you were represented by Congressman Rothfus or Congressman Fitzpatrick and you find out your not?” said Val DiGiorgio, Pennsylvania’s Republican Party chairman. “I mean that’s troubling.”
Since the court released the new map, DiGiorgio said it’s been a scramble to get ready for this year’s primary and he still calls foul on the Democratic majority court.
“It’s a difficult process when everything works smoothly. For the Supreme Court to throw this wrench into this mix to serve their partisan concerns is very distressing,” said DiGiorgio.
Republican leaders in the House and Senate have also decried the changes. Steve Miskin, spokesman for the House Majority Leader, has been ringing the alarm on social media.