About Madelynne Collins:  I am a student at West Chester University majoring in political science with an international relations focus and minoring in Spanish. My entire class created maps for our final project in our U.S. Political Parties class taught by Dr. Kennedy. We discussed gerrymandering a great deal,and through this project we were better able to understand the process of drawing the districts. 

Judges' statement

We liked  how Madelynne’s personal statement was clear and well-organized with a touch of humor. It showed she put a lot of energy into her process. While her map’s metrics were not spectacular, her focus on compactness gave her map a pleasing look that earned high marks from us.  We also liked that she went out and earned an endorsement.

Endorsements: 1

Personal statement

I tried to make this map as fair as possible by focusing on three main goals: equal population, contiguity, and compactness. I believe that these are the three goals that legislators should be focusing on when creating maps to avoid gerrymandering.

Population was my first priority. It is legally mandated that all of the districts be close in number as far as population goes. To do this I had to start with Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, where I knew the populations would be the highest. I started out with the entire cities in their own district, and then I slowly moved pieces out from the edges. I tried to take from only one side of each city, so they weren't split into as many districts, but I ended up having to take from multiple sides to give municipalities to the less populated suburbs.

As I got these more populated areas to the right sizes, I would move the populations along into the other districts closest to them, until the more sparsely populated areas had enough people. This led some of my districts, especially those in the middle, to be rather large, but population size is the most important part of redistricting so that was something that had to be done.

The next priority was contiguity. I did not want to see any Goofy kicking Donald types of districts, so I made sure that each district was completely contiguous. This led to some issues as I was finishing up the last small parts of my map. In District 2, as I was moving municipalities around to get the population right, I found that the municipality marked 303100 was not contiguous in itself. There was a larger portion on the left edge of the district that also had a very small portion that was not connected at the bottom of District 2. When I tried to move the larger portion to District 7, I was not able to because the Districts were no longer contiguous. There was another example of this happening in Districts 16 and 12, so I had to make sure that these small details were taken care of to ensure my map was contiguous.

Compactness was my third priority. I wanted to keep the general shape of each district as round as I could. I was not able to make the edges perfectly round because I had to keep the population as close as possible, but there are no long, and skinny districts in my map. I was able to make the districts so that they spread as little as I could make them from their centers.

Overall, with population, contiguity, and compactness as the main priorities, I was able to make a fair map. As an added bonus, there were 7 competitive districts, and of the remaining districts that are not as competitive, there was only one more Democratic district than Republican.  So the map has some overall competitive balance. With these things in mind. I’d say I was able to make a fair map.