Anna Simpson (Drexel University) - Honorable Mention, East Higher Ed

About Anna: I am currently a senior at Drexel University studying economics. I hope to work in the government upon my graduation.

Judges' statement

Anna had some of the strongest metrics in her division, finishing near the top of the leaderboard in her stated priorities, without sacrificing the other priorities that weren’t as important for her. She had a well-written personal statement, too. Ultimately, this was a loaded division, but Anna deserves a serious shout-out for her map. 

 Personal statement

As long as I can remember, I have always been told how Pennsylvania has been one of the worst gerrymandering states. It often led me to question the integrity of the election. How could I vote knowing that the results would be skewed towards a certain political party despite the amount of votes the party actually received?

The direct consequence of gerrymandering is having districts that are unevenly distributed to benefit a particular party. Thus, I believe the most important thing to focus on is competitiveness. Competitiveness attempts to create as many districts as possible where each party has a relatively equal chance of winning. I got 12 out of the 17 districts to be competitive, which ensures that no one party holds the majority of the districts in the state. I believe that this allows everyone - regardless of their political beliefs - to have a voice in their community. This is extremely important in order to initiate change in our community. However, in certain areas, such as Philadelphia, it was difficult to achieve competitiveness without damaging the district in terms of compactness.

In conjunction with this idea of competitiveness, I also focused on compactness, to ensure that the districts were composed fairly in terms of geography. This means that I had districts that spread little from their centers and had borders that were as smooth as they could be. It was difficult to achieve both competitiveness and compactness, which resulted in dividing the counties. I believe that doing this is acceptable, because the districts that I formed are still compact and competitive.

Overall, I believe that we need to focus on mapping Pennsylvania in a way that creates a fair system for both political parties and that creates districts that are as compact as possible.