Could Pennsylvania become a model for nationwide gerrymandering reform? A movie coming to Albany tomorrow examines the issue.
“Line in the Street” is a documentary about the political and legal battle playing out in Pennsylvania, one of the most gerrymandered states in the country. "Gerrymandering by definition is a conflict of interest. The people who are elected to office get to draw the maps and choose who will vote for them," said Robert Millman.
Millman and his daughter Rachel Millman co-produced and shot the picture on a micro budget raised by donations. Rachel: "I had just come off the heels of a accidentally very successful charity fundraiser that I did via Twitter. I kind of by the seat of my pants decided to try to raise money for Hurricane Harvey victims and Hurricane Maria victims and wound up raising $50,000. Complete shock to me, to this day that I managed to pull that off. But I was telling my dad about it once it was wrapped up and he said 'do you think you could do it again?'"
Robert: "I'm based in the Capital District, I live in Scotia, and this is a film particular to Pennsylvania, but the issue is national."
Rachel: "My dad taught me what gerrymandering was during the 2000 election because that's about when I became politically cognizant, but since then it went from being an educator and a student to a back-and-forth communication."
Now the duo is out to educate voters through the film that focuses on two related, but distinct parts of the Pennsylvania fight against gerrymandering: the legal challenge, charging state legislators, the governor and the Republican Party with violating Pennsylvania's constitution, and the political activists seeking to move a constitutional reform forward.
The Millmans say their story captures the conflict between the citizen groups and entrenched lawmakers. They say citizen activism is growing at an unprecedented rate in the Keystone State.
And they insist what happened in Pennsylvania could happen anywhere.
Establishing term limits and ending partisan gerrymandering are often spoke of together in New York. Over the summer Jennifer Wilson with the League of Women Voters said by ending gerrymandered legislative districts designed to protect incumbents, “We’d be a totally different state.”
"Line in the Street," is being shown at The Linda, WAMC's Performing Arts Studio, at 7 p.m. Friday. The 60-minute film is to be followed by an open discussion with the Millmans.
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