Emma Begg (Fox Chapel HS, Allegheny County) - Honorable Mention, West Youth

Hi I’m Emma! I’m going into my freshman year at Furman University

Judges' Statement

Emma's personal statement, which went through a thorough history of court cases on equal population, impresssed our judges. Further, she achieved her mapping goal and did a nice job with consultation of others as she drew her districts.

Personal Statement

I drew my map focused on the equal population of each district. It is important that every person feels that they are being equally represented and if the populations are as close as they can possibly be then citizens will hopefully feel that they are being represented fairly. The court case Baker v. Carr is about how in Tennessee people felt they were not being equally represented because their state was not being redistricted even though the population was changing in different parts of the state. When this case was taken to the Supreme Court the judges were originally unsure if they could hear cases about redistricting but the outcome of this case was that the supreme court would hear cases about redistricting. This then leads to the Supreme Court hearing the case Reyonalds vs. Sims. Sims argued that this lack of equal population per district in Alabama prevented citizens from effectively participating in government. Sims won this case because the Equal Protection Clause in the Fourteenth Amendment states “no less than substantially equal state legislative representation for all citizens…” meaning that all citizens are to be equally represented in the House of Representatives. If the population is not similar or equal within each district then all citizens are not equally represented. The Fourteenth Amendment plays an important role in protecting the rights of the people when it comes to redistricting and keeping the population similar in order to represent the people fairly. Every district I created had exactly 705,688 people in it. I did not consider land area or bodys of water, since it is people who vote and need representation, hence I did not worry about compactness. I also did not take partisan traits as a factor because while ideology may change over time, people's need for a fair vote does not. Population is one of the most important factors when considering redistricting, if the population is not close to equal then citizens may feel they are not being equally represented.