About Lauren Craig: I am completing my junior year at Manheim Township High School in Lancaster, PA. In addition to being in the International Baccalaureate program, I sing in chorus. What else? I read a lot, babysit, and work in children’s ministry at my church. I enjoy traveling and lived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for three years. 

Judges' statement

Lauren’s well-written and persuasive essay highlighted her logical and reasonable approach to mapping. She also had 14 competitive districts and preserved Pennsylvania’s two majority-minority districts. Her map features, as she puts it, “logically shaped” districts with “smooth borders.”

Personal statement

Before our class started this project, we learned some background information on both political parties and gerrymandering. During the Draw the Lines project, I received input from my teacher, Mrs. Eshelman.

The three priorities in this map were competitive elections, contiguity, and compactness. I placed competitive elections as the most important because I know that gerrymandering is done by both political parties to create an advantage in one or more districts.

With this map, I thought that the best way to limit gerrymandering would be to create districts with the least amount of party advantage. The districts in my map were designed so that every person’s vote could make a difference. The second and third priorities I had were contiguity and compactness because I wanted each district to be logically shaped and have smooth borders. I know that in past redistricting processes, some proposed districts were very oddly shaped and, in some cases, connected by only a small strip of land. For my map, I wanted to avoid this as much as possible.

One of the most challenging parts of creating a map with these priorities was constructing districts that met the population requirements but were also still competitive. I was still able to accomplish this for 14 out of the  18 districts by looking at the political party statistics for each subdivision of the counties. This was particularly difficult when I was creating the last few districts; several times I had to sacrifice the competitiveness of one district to ensure that the surrounding districts could be competitive.

When I had almost completed the map, I noticed that several districts were under or over the accepted population. My only option was to shift the boundaries for a few of my earlier created districts to add more people to the underpopulated ones. Similar to before, I had to attempt to complete this without changing the competitiveness of these districts.