Image Credit: Rachel Franklin Photography

About Nathaniel Ropski: I am once again excited and humbled to be taking part in another Draw the Lines competition! I currently work as an Admissions Counselor and adjunct instructor in political science at Gannon University in Erie, PA. You can ask my co-workers, I really like making maps for my job, too. When not at work, I spend my free time outdoors, watching soccer/hockey, designing/playing board games, or tending to my young plants. I want to thank my family and my girlfriend for their constant support, as well as the folks at DTL for their continued efforts to “Slay the Gerrymander.”

Judges' statement

We enjoyed reading about Nathaniel’s personal motivation for keeping as many unbroken lines as possible on his map. He did a great job and achieved his goal of limiting jurisdictional splits as much as possible. The judges found it amazing that he only had 10 city, township, or borough splits. The level of detail you have to go through to do that is commendable. (And to analyze that takes some work, too.) Nathaniel joins the exclusive list of three-time DTL winners.

Personal statement

I used the same approach on this State Senate map as with my State House submission. Because Dave’s Redistricting App lets users draw maps with full knowledge of city and township lines, I set out to keep those lines unbroken to the largest extent possible.

The people of Pennsylvania deserve to have their full communities held constant when taking into account the drawing of maps. Meadville deserves to be drawn into one district just as much as Reading does; Benner Township just as much as Scranton. No matter the community, this map and the others I submitted in this round  do their best to hold those communities up as one.

My personal reasoning behind for this echoes the reason why I got into redistricting reform in the first place. In 2011, when the now infamous, tossed-out maps were drawn, not only was my home county of Erie split, but so, too, was Millcreek Township, where I live.  There is no reason or need to split Millcreek other than to gerrymander. In every map I have ever drawn, Millcreek remained together. Why can’t we prioritize that notion at every level of governmental map-making?

In my State Senate map, 34 out of 67 of counties remain fully intact – just over 50 percent! Further, the only city/township splits happen in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, due to their size. No other township and city, no matter its size, gets broken up in any way. This still provided me 5 majority-minority districts, roughly 15 or so competitive districts (by my own PVI estimations, not those provided by Dave’s that I do not agree with), and a compactness score pushing 72.

I’m proud to say that this map achieves its goal. If each of the related maps that I drew for this fall competition were enacted, we would see in total only 10 cities, townships, or boroughs split up. That's 10 out of 2,560. Said differently, 99.6% of localities representing over 80% of the total population would have be part of maps at all three levels - congressioal, state Senate and state House - that keep their own community of interest wholly together. That is as representative a map as I can make.