This is the heart of Draw the Lines PA. We’d love for you to draw an election map of Pennsylvania.

There’s no better way than this hands-on experience to really grasp the ins and outs of redistricting, the tensions among legitimate goals and values that emerge as you try to get the lines to come together in the way you want. There’s no better way than making your own map to show that making election maps is no longer the exclusive province of elected officials and their political operatives.

You’ll draw your map on DistrictBuilder, a web-based platform built by a Philadelphia company called Azavea. Use this web address to get there... But wait! Don’t go there just yet. We’d like you to know a couple of things first:

You’ll be drawing a congressional map, i.e. the 18 congressional districts Pennsylvania currently has, using the latest Census data available. This 18-piece puzzle is the simplest way to learn the mapping tool. Future competitions will also include the state Senate map (50 districts) and the state House (203 districts).

It’s a good idea, before trying to do your map, to look over our Draw a map and to play the flashes of insight for web game, which will help you figure out your goals in making a map.

It’s a really, really, REALLY good idea to look over our User Guide before diving into DistrictBuilder.  People comfortable with computers can probably get the basics of their map done in two hours or so, as long as they start out with a grasp of the basics of DistrictBuilder. Trust us: the User Guide is worth a few moments of your time.

DistrictBuilder is actually a different website from this one, so you probably want to keep this one open on another tab of your web browser for reference.  When you get to DB, you’ll be asked to create a logon, with a user name (your email) and a password. We’ll never share your email with anyone outside the DTL team.

You can make as many maps as you want. Give each one its own name. All will be stored for you only to see under your logon until you decide to share one on social media or to submit one to the contest, using the Submit tab on DistrictBuilder.

If you run into a problem on DistrictBuilder or discover a glitch in the software or just have an idea how it could work better, we want to hear from you. Visit our DistrictBuilder Map Tool User Forum or fill out the feedback form.

Have fun. Make maps. Help save democracy. We’ll be with you, every step of the way.