The statewide youth runner-up in fall 2018, Jack Rosenthal, received his award from Committee of Seventy CEO David Thornburgh. | Image Credit: Rachel Franklin Photography

About Jack Rosenthal: I'm a sophomore at Taylor Allderdice High School, in Pittsburgh, PA. My favorite subject is Math. In my free time, I like to play tennis, read, and play piano. I live with my parents, my sister and our dog, Rusty. 

Judges' statement

Jack made it really, really hard to decide between first and second place this time around. His  population equivalence was the best in the state, across all categories. He did a great job in handling the difficult urban area of Philadelphia by combining urban and suburban communities together into “wedge” districts. The way he went about gathering several endorsers was also a nice plus for his entry. 

Endorsements: 4

Personal statement

Last fall, I entered the 2018 Draw the Lines contest. As I described in my entry then, it was during a trip to the Squirrel Hill Library that I learned about Draw the Lines. This sparked my interest in the issue of gerrymandering.  From that day, I felt equal population, minority representation, and having a non-biased map were important priorities. I have used these same values when making my entry for this contest.

I felt equal population was important as it gives the same value to each person's vote. I improved upon this a lot compared to my last entry and now have a population equivalence score of a little over 500. I have also maintained two majority/minority districts, which gives representation to minorities. If ethnic and racial minorities were spread equally among all of the districts, the majority groups would get to elect 100 percent of the representatives, which is not fair considering they do not make up 100 percent of the population.

The final goal of mine was to have a non-biased map, to give representation equally based on the percentage of voters belonging to each party. I did this by looking at the percentage of Republican and Democratic voters in the unassigned sections before I had made any districts. I found that there were about 950,000 more Democratic than Republican voters. Using this, I felt that there should be one more safe Democratic district than Republican and out of the competitive districts there should be one more district that leans somewhat Democrat. I also increased the amount of competitive districts compared to my last entry, as this results in less extreme candidates and holds representatives accountable.

I struggled with creating compact districts while also meeting my goals. The main challenge was doing this while making competitive districts. In my last entry, I had less competitive districts but a higher compactness score. This time, I decided to sacrifice some compactness for a higher amount of competitive districts. Although less compact districts are often a sign of gerrymandering, it was worth it to me to have less compactness to make what I felt was more fair map.