A Montgomery County judge has ruled in favor of CBSD Fair Votes in a case regarding the voting redistricting map over the map approved by the school board and superintendent.
The case was sent to Montgomery County after all the Bucks County judges recused themselves.
The district, the fourth largest in the state, will now be divided into three regions instead of nine, and each district will have three representatives. Critics say the plan, backed by progressive Democrats, will make it more difficult for Republicans to win elections.
The reapportionment process, done every 10 years to conform to U.S. Census results, ensures the nine districts represent roughly the same number of people. While the school board voted to approve a new map drawn by the solicitor and superintendent in November, CBSD Fair Votes challenged that map in court.
Despite using the same name, CBSD Fair Votes is not part of a national organization, Fair Votes, backed by progressive donors that advocates election policies backed by many on the left, said Tracy Suits, a former board member who spearheaded the group. Former President Barack Obama and Eric Holder, his attorney general, began a nationwide push to redistrict in 2016.
In her ruling, Senior Judge Cheryl L. Austin found both plans complied with the law, but she ruled in favor of CBSD Fair Votes instead of upholding the district’s plan. She found that “the Fair Votes plan is superior in its maintenance of political subdivision integrity because it splits fewer municipalities than the New Board Plan. The Fair Votes plan splits four municipalities. The New Board Plan splits six municipalities; one municipality (Warrington) is split three ways.”
“In maintaining subdivision integrity, the Fair Votes Plan also keeps communities together and preserves communities of interest. An advantage of having fewer regions in the school district will mean that school district residents have an opportunity to vote for three of the nine school district directors instead of one. This will create a greater chance that residents will be electing board members that reflect their personal values. Additionally, a three-region system increases the voters’ ability to vote for at least one board member from every four years to every two years.”
“Today, four days before elections in high-profile races for Central Bucks School Board, a judge from Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas elected as a Democrat reversed the tradition of voters in Central Bucks being able to elect a representative that lives in their district,” said Pat Poprik, chair of the Bucks County Republican Committee. “This tradition dates to the formation of this school district. Instead, this Judge decided to do away with nine school board districts based on geography and population. Instead, this judge opted to accept the recommendation of a group spearheaded by liberal and progressive special interest groups without sufficient justification to disenfranchise certain areas of Central Bucks. Unfortunately, this is yet another example of the politicization of our school board by liberal and progressive groups.”
Chalfont parent Jamie Walker was upset by the ruling.
“I don’t understand how a Montgomery County judge can make decisions for Bucks County. Why did all the Bucks County judges abandon the people of Bucks County? She went against what our elected school board voted for in our district. It’s purely a political move that has now set a precedent for any group to change voting regions in their district. Shame on everyone involved.”
It was unclear whether the district will appeal. Neither School Board President Dana Hunter nor Vice President Leigh Vasblom, who was on the voting region committee, responded to DVJournal. District Solicitor Jeffery Garton was unavailable to comment on Friday.
Lawyer Brendon Flynn, who represented Fair Votes, did not respond to requests for comment.