About Kara Szczublewski: I'm from Buffalo, New York, and am now a senior at Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pennsylvania. In the spring of 2019, I will earn a BA in intelligence studies, with a minor in international relations and diplomacy. I aspire to become an intelligence analyst and to use my academic and professional background  to help protect and serve her country. 

Judges' Statement

Kara’s map showcased exceptionally balanced districts. Her essay highlighted the importance of having districts with similar population sizes. Her map has more even districts (by population) than the current congressional district map.

Personal Statement

When reconfiguring election districts, the first priority should be to have equal population distribution with limited disparities between the districts. Equal distribution of the population not only sets a framework for fair representation, but it also upholds United States constitutional principles. In the proposed map, the target population was achieved in all 18 congressional districts. The current congressional district map has a population equivalence over 10,000, while the new proposed map has a population equivalence around 2,900.

Considering that equal population distribution was the top priority when creating the new districts, the lines are largely devoted to reducing the population disparities while maintaining or increasing compactness. The districts in the Northeast region (8, 9 and 12) of the former map had the most disproportion populations. Consequently, the populations of districts 9 and 12 were reduced to provide district 8 with 705,657 people, largely increasing its population and bringing it significantly closer to the overall target. The population of districts 16 and 18 were mostly maintained but were reconfigured to considerably increase compactness. District 16, in particular, was oddly shaped, specifically on the side bordering District 17. The edges were smoothed and the compactness increased from 16.5 percent to 39 percent. The final significant compactness adjustments occurred in districts 15 and 16. These districts were reconfigured to increase their compactness to over 33 percent and 40 percent, respectively.

More equally distributing the district populations, in many cases, caused minority population distributions to follow suit. The compactness adjustment to district 16 allotted for a higher minority population in district 17, increasing the African American population by approximately two percent. Reconfiguring the borders on the 18th district allowed for a greater percentage of minority populations in the 17th district, which was lacking relative to the other districts.

Finally, district 3 had a relatively high minority population but a low overall population. This district was adjusted to receive a higher total population, which consequentially placed a higher minority population within the boundaries of the 5th congressional district.