Carter Hanson (Gettysburg College) - 2nd Place, West Higher Ed

About Carter: I am a freshman at Gettysburg College from Boulder, Colorado. I am majoring in Political Science, minoring in Writing, and possibly double majoring in Philosophy or Public Policy. I am an investigative reporter for The Gettysburgian newspaper, host and producer of The Pensive Anchor podcast on WZBT 91.1 Gettysburg, a participant in the Eisenhower Institute's Contours of the Middle East program, and I am involved in Fourscores a capella.

Judges' statement

We were impressed with the compactness of Carter’s map, and with his detailed description of how he went about mapping. Mostly, we noted the overall fairness of his districts, even those that are not competitive. We were intrigued by his decision to split fewer municipalities and regions and his argument that counties in and of themselves are not indicative of communities of interest. He met his three goals of compactness, communities of interest and competitiveness, which, Carter wisely noted in his essay, “is critical because democracy, in a sense, is really about the exchange of ideas.”

Endorsements: 1

Personal statement

In this map, I focused on competitiveness, compactness, and keeping communities of interest together.

Competitiveness is critical because democracy, in a sense, is really about the exchange of ideas. To allow for a broad range of perspectives to compete for the endorsement of the majority is essential to this end, and only when the result is not predetermined, when candidates must truly compete, is the goal of democracy ever achieved. However, I have not been able to make all of the districts competitive, which may actually be a good thing; if there is to be any statewide proportionality in the congressional delegation (which I believe is a must) then there have to be some non-competitive districts. As such, my map has 10 competitive districts, 4 Democratic districts, and 3 Republican districts.

Additionally, I attempted to keep municipalities and geographic regions together, so as to better represent representatives' constituents. To do this, I maintained representation for many of the large cities such as in Districts 1 and 2 in Philadelphia and District 13 in Pittsburgh. I also established separate districts in the Philadelphia suburbs (Districts 3 and 4) and did not split any of the smaller cities such as Scranton, Reading, or Allentown.

I did, however, split many counties, as I do not think counties are very representative of what a community of interest means. Though counties play a small role in local politics, at the congressional level it does not have a huge impact if a county is split, as the cultural differences that constitute communities of interest grow independent of county boundaries.

My compactness score was an average of 43.3, the highest compactness score of any single district being 54.4 (District 5) and the lowest being 32.1 (District 14).

I had the most trouble with keeping the districts compact while maintaining what I thought were communities of interest. For example, District 13 in Pittsburgh was particularly difficult to draw because I wanted it to be focused in the center of the city while also being compact.

I am currently in a class called "The Mathematics of Voting" at Gettysburg College. I participated in the Draw the Lines competition as a part of that class, and I received feedback on my map from Professor Campbell Hetrick, who teaches "The Mathematics of Voting."