Rules for the PA Congressional Mapping Competition for Spring 2020


Create a valid map of Pennsylvania dividing the state into 17 congressional districts using the free DistrictBuilder software platform (web-based).

Why 17? Because that’s how many districts Pennsylvania is likely to have in 2021 after the 2020 Census.



The Committee of Seventy is a nonprofit good government group based in Pennsylvania. Draw the Lines PA is a civic education and engagement initiative sponsored by the Committee of Seventy.



Deadline for submissions is 11:59 p.m. ET on Mon, August 31. (Note: the original deadline was May 28th, but it has been extended to accommodate for challenges brought on by COVID-19.)


  • Entries can come from either individuals or teams. There is no limit to the size of your team. Individuals and teams can submit multiple maps, without limit, with each being treated as a separate entry, but only so long as each of the entries is accompanied by a unique personal or team statement. (More on that below.)
  • Base your map on a clear sense of which mapping values you most want to uphold. Here are some resources to help you do that: Flashes of Insight and Gerrymandering 101.
  • Another vital point to consider: The competition judges will give preference, other factors being equal, to maps that have been informed by conversation, input and feedback from other people. Why is this? Because Draw the Lines believes election mapping to be a civic activity, not a private or merely technical one.
  • Write, video or record your short personal statement. Instructions here.
  • Submit both map and statement using the DistrictBuilder platform. Before submitting, DistrictBuilder will validate your map to confirm that it meets the basic criteria for entering the competition. Then click Submit and fill out all the pertinent data on the entry form.
  • If your entry uses a Starter map, you must label your map “Starter” plus whatever you choose to name your map when you first begin. Starter maps are eligible for prizes, but must be labeled correctly.



In this round for the youth and higher education divisions, we are dividing the state into two regions: East and West.

A student whose hometown is in one region and whose school or college is in another may choose to enter in either region (but not both; pick one).


  • Youth – Secondary school age (age 13 or older)
  • Higher education – Currently enrolled undergraduate, graduate or professional school students, of any age (13 and older).  (Note: College professors are not eligible in this category; we love to have them participate, but they should enter in the adult category.)
  • Adult -  Older than 18, not enrolled in higher education.

If entering in the Youth or Higher Education divisions, provide the name of your school or college on your entry form.



Draw the Lines PA judging panels for each region will review all youth and higher education entries from that region. For each division, judges will pick one first-place and one second-place entry per region and division, while citing as many honorable mention entries as the judges deem appropriate based on their sole discretion.

First- and second-place winners from each region and division will then be judged statewide. From all regional winners, a Draw the Lines PA statewide panel will select one (1) statewide grand prize winner and one (1) statewide second place winner for each division.

It is within the statewide panel’s discretion to choose as statewide grand prize winner an entry that took second place in the regional judging.

Statewide grand prize and runner-up winners from previous Draw the Lines congressional competitions (fall 2018, spring 2019, fall 2019) are not eligible to win prizes in the spring 2020 congressional mapping competition. They are still eligible to participate in the state legislative redistricting competition; see below. This does not include individuals or teams who have won regional prizes only; they are still eligible to compete for statewide congressional prizes.


Regional winners (each division):

1st place: $500

2nd place: $250

Honorable mention:   A share of a $750 pool, the amount up to the sole discretion of the regional judging panel.

Statewide winners:

Grand prize: $5,000

2nd place prize: $2,000



A Draw the Lines PA judging panel for each region will review all adult entries from across the Commonwealth, regardless of division. Judges will select one (1) statewide grand prize winner and one (1) statewide second place winner. Note: there is no regional distinction for adult entries in the Spring 2020 competition. All maps will be placed directly in the statewide competition. 

Statewide grand prize and runner-up winners from previous Draw the Lines competitions (fall 2018, spring 2019, fall 2019) are not eligible to win prizes in the spring 2020 congressional mapping competition. They are still eligible to participate in the state legislative redistricting competition; see below. This does not include individuals or teams who have won regional prizes; they are still eligible to compete for statewide congressional prizes.


Statewide winners:

Grand prize: $1,000

2nd place prize: $500

DTL reserves the right to reapportion some of the prize money for the adult category to other categories if the total number of entries in the adult category is 10 or fewer.  The amount to be reapportioned is up to the sole discretion of the Draw the Lines staff.



DTL will award two (2) $1,000 grand prizes and (2) $500 2nd place prizes in the state legislative competition, one each for the State House and State Senate categories. DTL reserves the right to combine these two categories for purposes of awarding prizes if the number of entries for either category is low. 

Statewide grand prize and second place winners from previous Draw the Lines congressional competitions are eligible and encouraged to enter this competition. Statewide winners from the fall 2019 state legislative competition are not eligible to enter the legislative competition again in spring 2020 in the same category in which they won an award in 2019. For example, if you won an award in the State Senate competition, you would only be eligible to enter into the State House competition.

These awards will be judged by a Draw the Lines steering committee judging panel, using a similar rubric as the congressional mapping competition. Please see the Draw state legislative districts page for more details.

The state legislative competition is being conducted on Dave’s Redistricting App (DRA). Draw the Lines has no control over the functionality of the DRA platform, and therefore is not liable for any malfunctions, loss of data, outages, or any other mishaps that may occur on this external platform.



Statewide winners, regional winners, and regional honorable mentions will be honored at an event in Harrisburg in the early fall of 2020. This includes all members of a team entry who are named on the entry form. To claim their prizes, statewide grand-prize winners should plan to attend the statewide event. All honorees may apply to Sponsor for stipends to cover the cost of individual or team travel to the Harrisburg event (e.g. auto mileage, tolls, parking, bus or train fare).

Stipends will be awarded based on an evaluation of need, upon the sole discretion of the Sponsor. To apply for a travel stipend, contact Sponsor at



Maps will be judged by Draw the Lines PA steering committee panels based on both quantitative and qualitative criteria.

Here are the metrics that will be evaluated by DistrictBuilder, and the median and range from the Fall 2019 competition:

  • Number of districts: A map must have 17 districts.
  • Contiguity: Each individual district must be contiguous. (i.e. No “orphaned” census tracts that do not touch any other part of the district as drawn.)
  • Equal population: All districts must have populations within a 0.5 percent margin of the mandated size (747,199) of a congressional district based on the 2010 Census. That means the population of a district must be between 743,463 and 750,935. (DistrictBuilder tracks this on its user dashboard.) 
  • Competitiveness: DistrictBuilder uses voter registration data from 2010 to measure how competitive a district is likely to be. This compares the percentage of Democrats to the percentage of Republicans. If the percentages are within 10% of each other, a district is considered competitive. Fall 2019 Range: 6 to 16; Median: 9
  • Majority-Minority districts: How many districts have a majority voting age population (VAP) of non-white residents? A majority of a single race, or a “coalition district” of multiple races that add up to a majority both count. In PA, two is the likeliest result. Some mappers have chosen to honor the Majority-Minority goal by creating more districts where minorities form a plurality large enough to wield political influence. Fall 2019 Range: 0 to 2.
  • Compactness: How compact are the individual districts, avoiding oddly shaped or sprawling lines? (DistrictBuilder scores this criterion according to the Polsby-Popper score, which is reported on the dashboard. The higher the Polsby-Popper score, the better.) Fall 2019 Range: 12.8% to 47.5%; Median: 33.4%.
  • Population equivalence: What is the difference between the map’s highest population district and its lowest population district? The smaller the spread, the better. Since all districts are required to be in the given population range, a map that successfully limits this number will be well below 7,472 (the max allowed). Fall 2019 Range: 496 to 7,461. Median: 6,313. 
  • County splits: How many times is a county split up between districts? Note, this is different from how many counties are split up i.e. one county included in multiple districts can account for multiple splits. A mapper can find this by clicking “District Tools” at the top and then “Generate Splits Report”. Fall 2019 Range: 29 to 137; Median: 56.

Here is the judging rubric that will be used on both the regional and state level to determine winners:

1. Look of the map (20%) - At a glance, does the map follow some logic? Does it offer reasonable or even clever solutions to the challenges posed by the state’s geography and unequal distribution of population?

2. Map metrics (30%) - Each mapper had to declare which metrics they prioritized in their map. Does the map achieve its stated goal(s)? It’s important to note that DTL is not favoring any one goal over another. The question for judges here is: Does this map do well what it set out to do?

3. Personal statement (30%) - Does the statement clearly explain the goals and thinking that went into the map? Does it say anything distinctive, perceptive, memorable? Does it show any creativity or extra effort?

4. Outreach and dialogue (20%) - Were the map and statement based on any democratic dialogue or outreach by the mapper(s)? Dialogue among members of a team can count here.



Statewide winners and honorable mentions will be notified using the contact information provided on the entry form. A secondary school teacher whose classes or students enter via a master logon will be the person notified.

Draw the Lines PA will announce the winners on its website,, via its social media channels and through releases to the news media. Entering the competition constitutes consent to participate in media coverage. If winners are minors, Draw the Lines PA will seek express permission to share personal contact information with media.

The decisions of the Draw the Lines judging panels and the Committee of Seventy are final and binding as to all entrants.

All entrants agree that the Sponsor, and Sponsor’s authorized representatives, may use each entrant’s name and likeness and entry, without compensation, for purposes of announcing the winners and for promotion of the results of the competition and otherwise to promote the Sponsor’s Goal.

Further, each entrant agrees that the Sponsor shall have all right to promote and use each entry, with or without attribution, into this Competition for furthering Sponsor’s Goal to promote the creation of a map of congressional districts without gerrymandering.



  • Members of the Committee of Seventy’s staff and members of their immediate families.
  • Members of the Draw the Lines PA team, including independent contractors, and their immediate families.
  • Members of Draw the Lines PA’s three steering committees (East, Central and West) and their immediate families.
  • Members of the Committee of Seventy’s board of directors and their immediate families.
  • Owners and staff members of Azavea Inc., which designed DistrictBuilder, and P’unk Ave, which designed, and their immediate families.



  • Individuals and members of teams must be 13 years or older to enter the contest.
  • If any winner is under the age of 18, to be certified as a winner and receive a prize, that person must submit written consent from a parent or authorized guardian.
  •  To be eligible to win a prize, all individuals and all members of a team entry, must be either legal residents of the State of Pennsylvania, or a student currently taking classes for formal academic credit at a university, college or professional school located in the State of Pennsylvania.
  • Each team entry must have one person designated as the Team Lead. For secondary schools, this must be the team’s sponsoring teacher. Place this person’s name first in the list of team members when submitting a map. Should a team be picked as a winner, the Team Lead will be awarded the prize by the Sponsor. It is up to the team to determine if and how to share the prize. Sponsor shall have no role or responsibility of any kind for determining how any Team awarded a prize decides to share or use the prize. The only responsibility of the Sponsor is to award the prize to the individual identified as the Team Lead.
  • If an entry is submitted through a secondary school teacher via a master logon, the secondary school teacher will be notified if an individual student or team in one of their classes has won.
  • By submitting an entry, each entrant agrees to abide by all of the Competition Rules and the determinations of the judging panels in all regards, and warrants and agrees that nothing in the entry is illegally obtained or otherwise violates any federal or state laws or regulations. Further, by submitting an entry, each entrant warrants that only the entrant or entrants identified in the entry has worked on the preparation of the entry.



Before being awarded any prize, proof of identity, age and legal residence in Pennsylvania, and parent or guardian consent, if applicable, may be required, as well as providing the entrant’s taxpayer identification number for any Statewide winners and Statewide Runner-up winners. Failure to comply with these requirements may result in disqualification. All such documents shall be deliverable within ten (10) business days of notification. Digital submission is allowed. If these requirements are not met, an alternative winning entry may be chosen until a qualifying winning entry meeting all of the requirements specified in the Competition Rules is chosen.

Each entrant is responsible for any federal, state or local taxes that may be due and owing on any prizes awarded to any entrant.



By applying to enter and entering the Competition and/or accepting any Prize, entrant acknowledges and agrees that Sponsor, and its officers, directors, employees, contractors, and agents (collectively, the “Released Parties”) will not be liable for any claims, losses, liabilities, damages (including, without limitation, personal injury or property damage), or any related costs and expenses (including, without limitation, legal fees and disbursements and costs of investigation, litigation, settlement, judgment, interest, and penalties) (“Losses”) arising from, related to, or connected in any way with any loss or personal injury, including, without limitation, death, sustained by entrant, or any person or entity claiming on behalf of entrant, arising from, relating to, or connected in any way with entrant’s entry or participation in the Competition or recognition events, winning of any Prize, or use of any Prize, even in the event of negligence or fault of any of the Released Parties. Entrant assumes full responsibility for any Losses which may occur to entrant, or any person or entity claiming on behalf of entrant, arising from, relating to, or connected in any way with entrant’s participation in the Competition, award of any Prize, or use of any Prize. Entrant hereby releases and waives all of the Released Parties from any claims alleging Losses, whether existing now or arising in the future that in any way relate to the Released Parties’ performance in this Competition. Entrant further agrees to indemnify, defend, and hold harmless Sponsor, and each of their respective officers, directors, employees, contractors, and agents from and against any and all claims, actions, demands and liabilities, including those raised or brought by third parties, and any costs and expenses, including, without limitation reasonable attorney and professional fees and costs, and other expenses of any nature incurred in the investigation and defense of any claim resulting from any breach of any provision of the Competition Rules by an entrant.


If a virus, bug, catastrophic event, or any other unforeseen or unexpected event occurs that cannot be reasonably anticipated or controlled, and affects the fairness and/or integrity of this Competition, Sponsor reserves the right to cancel, change or suspend this Competition. This right is reserved whether the event is due to human or technical error.