Michael actually put forth two entries, one improving on the other. Judges felt that it was clever and useful to use the principles in the proposed LACRA legislation from our friends at Fair Districts PA. His map is really good, and he made an important point made on each of his entries: citizens are able to make maps that conform to basic principles in an effective way.
This map was my second attempt at a LACRA-compliant plan for the State Senate. The first version pursued exact population equivalence. After conferring with several experts who participated in litigation over the 2011 maps, I came to understand that precise population equivalence is not an absolute legal requirement. So I tried again, focusing primarily on minimizing county splits.
The results were quite different from the previous attempt, reflecting the changed priorities. Among the map’s notable attributes:
- 61 of 67 counties are divided the minimum necessary number of times. Among these, 48 are intact.
- The remaining six counties (Cambria, Clearfield, Chester, Cumberland, Monroe, and Westmoreland) are divided just one more time than necessary, per LACRA’s limits.
- Philadelphia County comprises six districts of nearly ideal size. This happy accident of arithmetic is unlikely to persist in the 2020 census.
- The difference between the highest and lowest district population values is 19,364 (7.62%, roughly 1600 times larger than the variation on the previous map, but still well within the 10% tolerance).
- Contiguity of districts has been maintained without any narrow "land bridges".
- Natural boundaries (e.g. rivers in Allegheny County) serve as borders where feasible.
- Known communities of interest are preserved where possible.
- The map was drawn with no awareness of current districts, incumbents, or partisan lean.
This map and its predecessor are companion pieces. Together they show that different objectives are achievable within the guidelines set by LACRA. They also share indifference to incumbency and prior maps, which might make them unpalatable to legislators.