Vincent So (Temple Upward Bound, Philadelphia) - Honorable Mention, Eastern Youth

About Vincent: I am a 16 year old Junior at Central High School, living in Philadelphia.

Judges' Statement

Vincent produced a well-balanced map with a sharp personal statement. Judges appreciated reading about the specific challenges he faced while drawing his map and what he did to overcome them. He also went the extra mile to collect feedback from his peers. 

Personal Statement

When first drawing out my map, I had several values in mind that I wanted to prioritize and be put into effect. They included minority representation, equal population, and competitive elections. I took interest in redistricting and the previous values because of how uncommon they are in Pennsylvania’s districts right now. When comparing a draft to the current district map, I noticed how equal population wasn’t as valued as opposed to favoring a political population, specifically, the Republican party, to over-populate the others. It definitely is unfair that parties don’t have an equal say on issues and don’t get the equal representation that everyone deserves. Moreover, I intended to focus on getting minority representation for my districts. Oftentimes, when drawing lines for districts, making sure minorities get a voice isn’t a priority for the legislature. As an Asian-American, I definitely see how minority groups in America don’t get enough representation and I think that it matters if our political representation is diverse or not. However, one of the challenges that I faced when working on my map was actually executing this. Pennsylvania itself doesn’t have a lot of minority groups outside of the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh areas, so I struggled to implement them throughout my districts. Realizing this, I decided to focus on making more politically equal districts. It gives more opportunities to other parties who are at a disadvantage regarding state decisions because of those who have stayed in power though gerrymandering. With these district changes, everyone can get representation. Through feedback from my peers, I realized I also needed to focus on the population of each district, which were one of my prioritized values. This brought on many challenges and frustrations. I had a hard time making sure each district had the target population of about 747,000 people. It was pretty difficult to spread the population around from Philadelphia and Pittsburgh and make sure that no district had too little or too many people. I was able to get through it though with time, and now all my districts hit the target population. Overall, I enjoyed my time using Draw the Lines to redraw Pennsylvania’s district lines and to make them much more fair. I really hope that the next time the lines are redrawn that all people are in mind, rather than one group.