DTL's spring mapping competition at a glance

Chris Satullo| April 8th, 2019

Photo of Draw the Lines mapper
Draw the Lines mapper experiments with redistricting

The challenge to mappers: Draw a 17-district congressional map of Pennsylvania, with a personal statement explaining what goals you chose for your map, why those goals and how you went about achieving them.

How do I draw a map?

Use our DistrictBuilder tool.   

Always start by doing the steps on our Draw a Map page.

Sorry, we don't accept maps done using other online tools.  You can upload data from another platform onto DistrictBuilder.

How long will it take me? 

You can finish a draft of a map in an hour or two, but to refine your map to meet the basic competition requirements and to achieve your other goals is probably going to take 3-4 hours.  (In other words, no more time than a lot of people spend each week binging a show on Netflix.)

How do I enter?

Once you have your map where you want it, click "Submit" and the DistrictBuilder tool will guide you through the rest of the process, including the Personal Statement.

What's the set-up on this competition?

You enter in one of three age groups: youth, higher ed (i.e. undergrad plus people pursuing advanced or professional degrees) and adult.   (Note: College professors, please enter as an Adult.)

Maps are judged first on a regional basis, in our three regions: West, Central and East.   Regional champions in each age group win $500 and advance to the statewide judging.  Regional runners-up in each group win $250 and also advance to the statewide phase.  We also award some regional honorable mentions.  Regional honors will be announced early this stummer.

One statewide champ and one runner-up are selected in each age groups.  The champions win $5,000, the runners-up $2,500

The state winners will be announced next September in an event at the State Capitol; all honorees will be recognized at that event.

What's the deadline?

11:59 p.m., May 31.

Can I enter more than one map?

You can enter as many maps you like, as long as each is different and has a distinct personal statement.

Not sure I can get this done by myself; can I be part of a team?

Yes, we encourage team entries.  Team members can also enter a different map as individuals.

Why 17 congressional districts? Doesn't Pennsylvania have 18?

Yes, for now, it does. But after the 2020 Census, the state is likely to lose at least one seat through reapportionment.  So, in our spring competition, we're looking ahead to the challenge that will actually face the state in 2021.  (Our fall competition, by contrast, looked backwards, asking mappers to do a better job than the state legislature did on an 18-district map in 2011.)

What's an endorser?

Endorsers are people who played no active role in creating a map, but have reviewed the finished product and want to convey to our judges their support for the map.  Endorsing a map is a good way for someone who finds the technology intimidating to benefit from the experience of thinking about what goes into a sound election map.

How do you decide what the best maps are?

Members of DTL's steering committees do the judging, using a standar rubric. That, and a lot else, is explained in detail in our formal competition rules.  A map that's part of this document will help you confirm which region you're in. (College students can enter either from their hometown or campus location.)

Do you offer any help to mappers?

Yes.  Check out the help videos on our YouTube channel.

Here is a detailed User Guide with lots of tips.

Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @drawthelinespa. We regularly offer tips for mappers on our social channels.

As the competition deadline nears, also look for the Mapper's Tales that appear occasionally on this website, with people who've finished maps talking about how they did and how they overcame the obstacles that arose.

You can always email us at info@drawthelinespa.org to get answers to to your mapping questions.

How much competition will I have if I enter?

A lot, we hope.  Here are the statistics from our first competition last fall: More than 1,500 people tried their hand at a map, starting 2,700 of them. Out of that pool, 318 maps were validated as constitutional by the tool and submitted with a proper personal statement, making them eligible to be judged.

Higher Ed was the age group with the most entries, and Adult had the least.