About Emily Thayer: Of Mercyhurst University.

Judges' Statement

Emily Thayer prioritized creating districts with extremely even population sizes. She was successful in doing so. Emily also excelled at creating communities of interest.

Personal Statement

I chose to focus on two different criteria for creating my district lines. My primary concern was creating equal populations. An integral part to the democratic process is voting. Each citizen deserves an equal say in the government, and thus must have equal voting right. It is imperative that the vote of one citizen is equal to the vote of another. If certain citizens’ votes carry more weight, they will receive an unfair advantage and the essence of the democratic process would be tarnished.
    I chose to make all of my districts as close in population as possible, which is essential to ensuring political equality throughout the population. The votes of citizens who live in larger districts have less value than those of citizens in smaller districts. Creating the districts equal in population allows each citizen’s vote to be equal to the next. This helps to protect against tyranny by the minority. Unequal population distribution gives more power to less populated districts, giving those citizens’ votes disproportionate political power. In this situation, the smaller sections of the population would have a greater say than the majority, leading to a tyranny by the minority. Ensuring equal populations in districts levels the playing field and ensures that each citizen gets a say in the government while also eliminating tyranny by the minority. Tyranny by the majority is still an option, however that can be protected against in other areas of government.
    The other idea I focused on was creating communities of interest. Communities of interest are groups of people who share common ideas and beliefs, which often coincide with similar political thoughts. By placing communities of interest in the same district, citizens are able to vote more effectively for policies that affect their lives. Communities of interest could revolve around geography, socio-economic status, hunting rights, fracking rights, animal rights, along with many other issues. They contain characteristics that help give people an identity. Thus, people within these communities generally have a strong opinion about how that sector of their life should be governed, as they are experiencing it themselves. People living within a city should decide that city’s policies; it would make little sense to have a large portion of the surrounding rural community to have an equal say in city school systems, roads, and other such matters.

Therefore, I tried to maintain community integrity. I defined communities by looking at geography, rural versus urban developments, and regional political issues. I attempted to give rural regions, urban developments, and important geographical areas (such as Lake Erie or the Allegheny Forest) their own districts so as not to diminish their individual political power. However, when necessary, I chose population equality over community unity."