While Jacob’s map certainly has solid metrics across the board, where his entry shone was on the scope of civic engagement and the quality of his crisp, well-written personal statement. He surveyed his classmates in his Advanced Placement Government class to get input on what values to stress in his map. He was clearly thoughtful about how to mesh that feedback with his own goals and values. His map earned an impressive roster of endorsements.
I believe that population equivalence, competitiveness, compactness, and having two majority-minority groups are the most important factors to consider while creating congressional districts in Pennsylvania.
I first became interested in the fight against gerrymandering when I attended a Fair Districts PA event for my AP Government class. I was astounded that gerrymandering is so prevalent in today’s politics. It is every citizen’s right to have a vote that counts equally as much as anyone else’s.
With this being said, I knew that there were better solutions to PA’s congressional districts than that which is currently in place.
Before constructing my map, I wanted to see what factors my classmates thought were most important when creating congressional districts. So, I created an online survey for my AP Government class. My classmates felt that population equivalence, competitiveness, and communities of interest were the top three most important characteristics of congressional districts.
While I agree with my classmates, I think that the best way to preserve communities of interest is to create compact districts, and aim for two out of the 17 to be majority-minority districts.
Population equivalence should be the single most important factor in creating districts. Without it, citizens' votes in more populated districts carry less weight than citizens in less populated districts.
The founding fathers agreed on this as the Apportionment Clause of Article I, Section 2, of the U.S. Constitution requires that all districts be as nearly equal in population as practical, which essentially means exactly equal. Competitiveness within districts is also fundamental.
Gerrymandering in the first place is often done to favor one party over the other, so competitive districts are the solution to this problem. Although only nine of my districts are considered competitive, I feel that my map is fair to both parties. Of my remaining eight districts, three are Republican dominated, and five are democrat Dominated. Pennsylvania’s November 5, 2019 voting statistics, show 4.1 million registered Democrats and 3.2 million registered Republicans.
With significantly more Democrats than Republicans, I think that having two more Democrat leaning districts is representative of the state.
Creating compact districts is also very important because they help preserve communities of interest. Majority-minority districts are another way to meet this goal. Having two majority-minority districts seems to be the magic number, as there are two “communities” of concentrated minorities in the southeast corner of the state.