Team 'The District Avengers,' Honorable Mention, Higher Ed-East & Central

AbouLauren Robbins (top right): I  am majoring in information technology security and minoring in political science. We all work very well together and each of us brought a different skill to the table that aided us in making our map the best way we saw fit.

About Kristopher Rosencrans (bottom): I am a senior in the Government, Law and National Security Program at Misericordia University. I plan to pursue a career in law enforcement at the local, state, or federal level, or a career in the government.

About Hunter Glidewell (upper left): I'm a senior at Misericordia University, majoring in government, law, and national security with a minor in philosophy. When I'm not studying or conducting research, I enjoy listening to music, bowling, and keeping up with current events.

Awaiting photos and bios for: Alex Frear and Sean Lyons.


Judges' statement

This team achieved very good metrics, nailing its goal of equal population.  The team statement revealed that a lot of research, care and serious
thinking about tradeoffs went into their effort. They made some nice choices in shaping some of their districts, but their sprawling District 15 probably was what kept them from the top spots.

Personal statement

As a group, we attempted to meet three criteria, while still maintaining a realistic looking shape. The goals we kept in mind are: equal population, geographical regions and fair race/cultural representation. We pursued these criteria and goals because they all grouped together efficiently.

We aimed for contiguity by establishing realistic district lines. We were able to construct all 17 districts to make the population equivalence score 2,540, which we consider an efficient number. Ideally, this metric should stay lower in order to encourage equal representation, as unequal population tends to result in unequal representation.

With the look of the map in mind, we wanted to use the original district numbers in the same general location, but we morphed and moved the districts based on geography and known cultures of regions. For example, across the center of the state, we wanted to keep the districts on the Appalachian mountain range mostly together. As a group, we worked efficiently in order to produce a realistic, well-built map that meets specific criteria and is competitive across the state.

A major criterion that we focused on was contiguity of the districts. According to Article II, Section 16 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, it is required that the districts have to be contiguous and to avoid dividing a county, city, incorporated town, borough, township or ward unless absolutely necessary. We as a group tried our hardest to not have to divide up any of the above listed territories, but at times we had to conquer and divide for the greater good of the state. We deemed all of our territory splitting as absolutely necessary to meet not only just contiguity, but also the other criteria as well. For example, in our District 8, we tried to keep all of the neighboring State Game Lands together.

One of the criteria of the project that we didn't chose to go for was competitiveness. We considered our competitiveness to be a success on a state level, because on a state level we were able to keep the state competitive and maintain its “swing state” identity. We believe this is a good thing because Pennsylvania does not have many competitive districts naturally, because of the various cities and rural areas that do not geographically blend well.

We did not make unrealistic goals or criteria choices, but instead we aimed for the choices that were plausible.