March 22nd, 2022
Dear Draw the Lines citizen mappers and supporters -
After a long and winding road, Pennsylvania finally has new political maps.
On March 7th, the US Supreme Court declined to intervene in a last-gasp effort to stay the order from the PA Supreme Court to use the Carter congressional map for 2022. Then last week the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania unanimously found that the state legislative maps are constitutional and have the force of law. We can now close the book on PA's 2020s redistricting cycle.
Five years ago, the Committee of Seventy launched Draw the Lines PA to bring unprecedented transparency and citizen engagement to this once-arcane and hugely important process. We were operating on the hunch that when citizens literally take mapping into their own hands, they would unleash fresh streams of energy, accountability, and political power.
We succeeded beyond our wildest dreams.
This was the most transparent mapping process in the history of the Commonwealth — not, as some elected officials have asserted, because of what happened inside the Capitol. Instead, it was the work of tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians outside the Capitol, led by our 7,211 citizen mappers who spent over 25,000 hours of their own time drawing maps, that did the trick. Working closely with groups like Fair Districts PA, PA Voice, and Common Cause, it was you, our citizens, who threw open the curtains and turned on the lights.
For the first time ever, the Draw the Lines Citizens’ Map, and other maps drawn by citizen groups, reached the final round of consideration by the Supreme Court — the “Sweet Thirteen” set of maps from which the Court made its final selection. Because of our work, each of the set of thirteen congressional maps was far, far better than what was produced in 2011, and the state legislative maps were major improvements as well.
The quality and creativity of our work — YOUR work — did not go unnoticed. Governor Tom Wolf endorsed the Citizen’s Map, and Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Max Baer praised its creation: “I thought the Committee of Seventy and the methodology used here was really commendable… congratulations to all those involved in a really transparent process.”
While you, the citizens, were the true stars of the show, as in any smash hit there was a great team of people working hard and fast with you, and they deserve our enormous thanks.
Chris Satullo, the project’s co-founder, was an inspiration and powerful creative force. Under his direction, Draw the Lines grew from a plucky start-up to one with statewide credibility and presence. Other former staff, like Linda Breitstein, Rachel Colker, Corinna Wilson, Aleina Smith, Amy Worden, Shannon Wink, Bob Nelkin, and Don Henry played vital roles in building the project, as did core Committee of Seventy staff Pat Christmas, Lauren Cristella, Dan Bright, and Paul Droesch.
Our regional steering committees were incredibly helpful in introducing Draw the Lines to funders, educators, and other civic leaders. Former US Attorney Fred Thieman, former Superior Court Judge Maureen Lally-Green*, and Dana Brown of the Pennsylvania Center for Women in Politics at Chatham University led the committee in the western region, former State Sen. Mike Brubaker and Rev. Sandra Strauss, Director of Advocacy for the PA Council of Churches, pitched in in the central region; and former PA Governor Mark Schweiker and CEO of the Urban Affairs Coalition Sharmain Matlock-Turner held down the fort in the east.
Draw the Lines was funded almost exclusively by Pennsylvania-based foundations, including the William Penn Foundation, Hillman Family Foundations, the Heinz Endowments, the Benedum Foundation, the Grable Foundation, the Independence Foundation, the Posner Foundation, and the Pittsburgh Foundation. They provided nearly all of the $2.5 million that sustained this project over the last five years.
Early on in this process we realized that high school and college classrooms were perfect laboratories in which to incubate the Draw the Lines approach and demonstrate its appeal. We are grateful for the 150+ schools across Pennsylvania that participated in Draw the Lines. Passionate teachers like Jason Burke (Abington Heights HS in Lackawanna County), John Corrigan (Roman Catholic HS, Philadelphia), Athan Biss (The Baldwin School, Montgomery County), Julia Furman and John Fournie (Delone Catholich HS, Adams County), Bill Rosenberg (Drexel University), Nicole Eshelman (Manheim Township HS, Lancaster County), Beth Campbell Hetrick (Gettysburg College), Jen Klein (Fox Chapel HS, Allegheny County), and Joe Morris (Mercyhurst University, Erie) truly powered the effort, and their continued involvement will prepare wave after wave of student-citizens in the future.
A special thanks goes to The Citizen Map Corps, a group of nearly 40 of Pennsylvania’s most dedicated and accomplished citizen mappers. This elite group of citizen mappers helped draw the PA Citizens' Map, published in-depth analysis of plans that emerged from Harrisburg, drew scores of their own maps for various DTL competitions, and provided valuable insight and opinions to inform our work. We truly enjoyed working with them and are in awe of their energy and insight.
As for what's next with Draw the Lines, we are updating drawthelinespa.org with evergreen content for educators to continue using our learning resources and a link to public mapping platforms. Over the next few months, Chris Satullo will be writing the Story of Draw the Lines so that future efforts can benefit from our work. And we'll start folding our DTL audience into the broader Committee of Seventy umbrella. Seventy is growing our WeVote voter education and engagement project, working to repeal closed primaries to allow all voters to vote in those elections (Ballot PA), and supporting county election directors in their efforts to combat the mis- and dis-information that threatens the 2022 and 2024 elections. If you'd like to learn more about any of these efforts, give us a shout (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Working with all of you on this important work, and having such a profound effect on this process, has been a highlight of both our careers. Thank you for the privilege and opportunity to work side by side with all of you to deliver democracy in Pennsylvania.
David Thornburgh - Chair, Draw the Lines PA
Justin Villere - Managing Director, Draw the Lines PA
*Judge Lally-Green stepped down from her position on the steering committee in 2020 to avoid potential conflicts of interest.