A previous honoree, Alex rises to statewide notice with his best effort yet, a map that nails his primary goals of compactness and limiting splits. We were impressed and gratified by what Alex says in his personal statement about what it’s meant to him to take part in Draw the Lines and do something active to uphold democracy.
This map prioritizes compactness, communities of interest, and thus to a lesser extent splitting municipalities and counties, and proportionality.
Compactness helps to ensure that districts don’t sprawl into any areas that are far-flung in relation to the rest of the district. Keeping communities of interest intact is an important part of preserving similar voices on a local level. This also leads to my less prioritized goal of minimizing county and municipality splits. Proportionality is important to offset the political geography of the state, which tends to benefit Republican candidates even though the state has fewer registered GOP voters.
Any map that doesn’t account for the different urban and rural political geographies within the state would leave make it easier for Republican candidates to hold a larger share of the seats than their statewide share of voters might justify. This can easily be seen in the current map and the current state of the ongoing campaigns this fall, where the Republican majority is more likely to remain than not.
The biggest challenge that I encountered while making this map was balancing the many goals I had. Since there were 203 districts, I did have a lot of room to make different trade-offs. That still ended up leaving some less-than-ideal-looking edges on districts - such as with District 164 doing a bit of contortion to keep minority communities as a majority. However, I was also pleased that I was able to minimize the number of ward splits in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia in effort to keep those communities intact.
Having entered multiple Draw the Lines contests now, I was glad to participate again and have this as a bit of normalcy in my life. This map, like all maps like this that I have made and continue to make, is an effort, firstly, to educate myself on how maps are drawn and can be drawn.
I also make maps for others to see at least what a new option to the maps we could have. Specifically for this map, I used the 2018 Census population figures as a way to look towards the future with hope of having a fair state House map next decade.
Ultimately, I hope that this map is a small but important step in the direction of fairer maps on all levels throughout the nation and the Commonwealth for generations to come, no matter how long it takes to get fair maps.