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.
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 succeeded beyond our wildest dreams.
Draw the Lines Statement on House State Gov't Committee draft map
Today, the Pennsylvania House State Government Committee released a preliminary Congressional redistricting map for public input. In response, David Thornburgh, Chair of Draw the Lines PA, released the following statement:
Draw the Lines video series of Pennsylvanians discussing the Citizens' Map
Draw the Lines is proud to introduce a new video series that will interview the people who helped contribute to the PA Citizens' Map. Some are senior citizens. Some aren't even seniors in high school. They come from all over PA, with a range of backgrounds. They focused on different goals in their own maps, like compactness, minimizing splits, honoring the Voting Rights Act, or pursuing competitive elections. All are focused on a transparent process and better maps than 2011.
DTL calls on legislature to immediately produce a congressional map
Draw the Lines today publicly called on the General Assembly to swiftly and transparently produce a draft map of congressional districts for public comment, using the 2020 Census data released in August, citing its own Pennsylvania Citizens’ Map as an example of a fair and sound map that was produced using input from thousands of Pennsylvanians who drew their own districts.
Sampling the public comments on the PA Citizens' Map
Draw the Lines has been fielding public comments on our Citizens' Map since we released it in Sept. Here's a sample. We expect the General Assembly to do the same and release a draft map for public comment.
Every line on a map, every twist or turn, is there for a reason. Sometimes those are good reasons; sometimes they’re not. Collectively, the lines tell a story of the whole map. Here is the story of the Citizen’s Map.
Because of unprecedented attention from Pennsylvania's voters, the Commonwealth's redistricting process must pursue a similar degree of unparalleled transparency and citizen engagement.
The Roadmap to Transparent Redistricting offers guidance to the General Assembly and the Legislative Reapportionment Committee to achieve this ambitious goal. It uses lessons from large-scale public engagement initiatives, including the 2019 Pennsylvania Redistricting Reform Commission and three-year long Draw the Lines PA mapping competition.
The Legislative Reapportionment Commission (LRC) wants to hear from you. Its website now contains the ability for Pennsylvanians to provide direct feedback to the commission. This includes both general comments and the ability to upload your own legislative map. Here are some suggestions on comments you can make.
In April 2021, the Great Voteswagon Tour of Pennsylvania barnstormed the commonwealth. Our famous van stopped in communities across PA to talk about the importance of a fair, transparent redistricting process.
Exercise uses imagination to demystify gerrymandering
Takes the intimidation factor out of gerrymandering by making it like finding dragons in clouds overhead. Materials include a teaching guide and student handout with the outline of some of Pennsylvania's most notorious gerrymanders.
Two-part lesson guides students through the basics of a census, why it is necessary, and whether people feel comfortable participating in it. Includes video resources. Includes reflective writing and group work.
Episode 1: Dude, Who Stole My Seat? Jason Altmire Hunts Answers
Jason Altmire was the chief victim of the Pennsylvania’s Great Gerrymander of 2011. In this episode, he explains how he lost a seat in Congress after three terms through diabolically subtle line-drawing, aimed at setting him up to lose his own party’s primary. He also lays out vividly how gerrymandering is causing the slow death of the center in our national politics.
Episode 2 — For the Love of Mike: Bryan Miller Fights Back
Gerrymanders aren’t just wacky lines on a map. By empowering ideologues and special interests, they thwart the commonsense solutions to tough issues that are favored by strong majorities of Americans. Gun violence protection is one such issue. Meet Bryan Miller, whose quest to redeem the murder of his brother Mike led him to big successes in one state capitol, but defeats and frustration in another. The difference between the two buildings, just a hundred miles apart: gerrymandering.
Episode 3: From Ratf***ed to Unrigged: David Daley Discovers Hope
David Daley wrote the book on how gerrymandering undermines democracy. He gave it a profane title and a depressing epilogue tinged with despair about America’s future. He’s got a new book now. In it, he joyfully details how the final chapter of his earlier book is being proved wrong. Let Daley take you on a journey across America to meet the everyday heroes whose savvy, DIY activism is spreading the fire of reform.
Episode 4 — Gerrymander Never Knew What Hit It: Ben Geffen Saves America
OK, we exaggerate somewhat. But Ben Geffen was a key player on the legal team that won the first court case that overturned for good a notorious 2011 gerrymander. Geffen’s tale takes you behind closed doors to learn how a band of determined citizens and public-interest lawyers stunned political insiders. They used a novel legal theory to convince the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to toss out the state’s notorious, “Donald Duck kicks Goofy” congressional map. The new map put in its place then fueled the “blue wave” of the 2018 mid-terms.
Episode 5 - From Snowball to Avalanche: Carol Kuniholm Steps Up
When Carol Kuniholm stood up in a Philadelphia church on frigid evening in January 2017, she didn’t feel she was about to launch a movement. She just felt deep stage fright. Then, she started talking. And, with every word she told that packed sanctuary, the gerrymander got a little less secure in his lair. If you can slay the gerrymander in one of America’s most reform-allergic states, you can do it anywhere. Kuniholm hasn’t finished the quest yet, but she’s not done trying.
Episode 6 — And a Child Shall Lead Them: Kyle Hynes Schools His Elders
There's never been a competition quite like it before. When Draw the Lines PA set out to prove that regular folks could draw election maps better than the political pros, many scoffed. Other shrugged. They hadn’t met Kyle Hynes, a 15-year-old from the place known as Happy Valley, who knows more about the Voting Rights Act than plenty of congresspeople. Hynes won $5,000 for his congressional map of Pennsylvania, one of 318 entered in the biggest public mapping contest in the nation’s history. He’s a walking, talking rebuke to the notion that only expert partisans can draw election maps.
When Eric Stahl of Washington, D.C., sat down with DistrictBuilder to create his DTL map, he already knew a bunch about redistricting. But he still faced some surprisingly hard choices as he tried to craft a map that favored the compactness goal.
ICYMI: That didn't take long; partisan squabbling over new redistricting panel begins
Last Wednesday, Gov. Wolf named David Thornburgh, CEO of the Committee of Seventy and leader of Draw the Lines PA, to head a new advisory panel tasked with suggesting redistricting reforms. The commission is already caught in a partisan crossfire, as Republican leaders take aim.
The Mappers' Tale: The Waxenberg Family of Lords Valley
Michael Waxenberg of Pike County got really interested in gerrymandering during the Pennsylvania court case last winter. He was the head geek in his family, but when he enlisted his daughters to help do a Draw the Lines map, one of them asked the genius question that showed the Waxenbergs the path to their map.
Students will learn to read and analyze a secondary source on Pennsylvania’s voting lines, think critically about motivations and incentives when legislators draw the maps, simulate the legislative and commission process and map their own.
Mariam Sayeed believes voters' choices on who should represent our communities become crucial when it comes to decisions about education, health care and safety. She's begun to understand how these decisions are affected by gerrymandering.
A 1989 Time magazine cover depicting George Washington with a tear running down his cheek, headlined "Is Government Dead?" helped inspire Professor Jill Family to play a leading role in Draw the Lines.
Ruling in N.C. case throws election into confusion
North Carolina and Pennsylvania are both up there in the listing of "America's worst gerrymanders." Now, North Carolina is following Pennsylvania's example in having its congressional map ruled illegal shortly before an election.
By using Draw The Lines PA, you are entering into a contract with Committee of Seventy, a non-profit organization in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, headquartered at 123 S. Broad Street. Under that contract, you must abide by the terms outlined in this document.
Dr. Myra Gehret Forrest, a former school district superintendent, believes that the practice of gerrymandering is not just unfair but 'un-American.' She's backing Draw the Lines because she believes education is the key to a solution.
We at Draw the Lines PA take your privacy seriously. To that end, Draw the Lines PA and its parent organization, Committee of Seventy in Philadelphia, promise we will never sell your personal information, such as your name or email address, to anyone. Ever.
Draw the Lines presented at Gannon University about the solution to gerrymandering and efforts to draw fair and more representative voting districts. The discussion was led by Rachel Colker, Western Regional Coordinator of DTL, and Carol Kuniholm of Fair Districts PA.
Draw the Lines PA joined the Carnegie Library in leading an interactive and informational discussion of gerrymandering. We covered the history of gerrymandering, the state of gerrymandering in Pennsylvania, explained the mission of Draw the Lines, and offered connections to reform efforts.
The DTL team joined Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh to show the engaged audience how DTL works and a test drive to our free mapping tool. Join Draw the Lines to compete regionally and statewide for big prizes!
Sept. 17 was Constitution Day and Draw the Lines PA honored the nation's founding charter by joining with UPenn professor Ken Stief to talk about how gerrymandering subverts the Framers' vision. We let folks test drive our DistrictBuilder tool and get ready to draw their own maps.
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All for All Summit
All for All Summit
Draw the Lines PA joined an interactive gathering on the role of immigrants in entrepreneurship and the local economy. The panels discussed the intersection of immigrant inclusion with local politics, the arts, and more.