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Please begin with an informative title:

2001 Pennsylvania state Senate map
Congratulations! You have just been selected as a redistricting consultant for a three-judge panel sitting in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. New legislative maps recently passed by the Legislative Redistricting Commission have been struck down by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court for violating the state constitution. Meanwhile, a recent ruling ordering this year's legislative elections to go forward using the 2001 maps has just been overturned on appeal. Pennsylvania must find some way to conduct elections this fall, though, so the district court has been instructed to modify the 2001 lines to bring them into compliance with the U.S. Constitution, which requires population equity. This is where you come in.

You must enter an Intro for your Diary Entry between 300 and 1150 characters long (that's approximately 50-175 words without any html or formatting markup).

Here are your guidelines (mixed with some general considerations):

Pennsylvania's House has 203 single-member seats, while Pennsylvania's Senate has 50 single-member seats.

You are not working from a blank slate. Rather, the panel has ordered you to deliver "least change" maps for both the House and Senate. That is to say that you should only deviate from the 2001 plans when absolutely necessary to (a) achieve population equality and (b) to follow Pennsylvania's constitutional requirements found in Art. II, Sec. 16 of the state constitution:

Unless absolutely necessary no county, city, incorporated town, borough, township or ward shall be divided in forming either a senatorial or representative district.
If by following these requirements you find that you are increasing the number of Hispanic-majority districts from the 2001 plan, you are probably doing something right. There will be bonus points for an increase in Hispanic districts that is roughly proportional to this group's increase as a share of Pennsylvania's population, which is now 5.7%, up from 3.2% a decade ago. The baseline plan for the House has only one Hispanic majority district, while the Senate has none. (Note that we will use the 18+/Voting Age Population to evaluate your plan for these purposes).  

You will be evaluated based on how few changes you make to the existing maps. Be sure to note when you have moved a district (and to otherwise not deviate from the original district numbering plan). Senate terms are staggered, so you should move as few people as possible between even- and odd-numbered districts to minimize the number of people who will wait six years between casting votes for senators.

Because this map will be imposed by a federal court, you do not have a mathematical safe-harbor of ±10%. Nor must you deliver mathematically exact equality. Rather, you must approximate exact equality. (For the purposes of this contest, ±3% should be adequate).

Your work should be done in and submitted in the format used by Dave's Redistricting App. Here's how:

1) Open up Dave's Redistricting App.

2) Using the "Select State" pulldown in the top-left corner, choose "Pennsylvania."

3) If a pop-up comes up that says "Choose The Data You Want To Work With," select the first radio button, "2010 Voting Districts (Updated by the state)". (Note that this option does include election data.)

4) After the data loads (which may take some time), click the "Change Scenario" button on the left-hand side. Select either Senate districts or House districts, whichever you plan to work on.

5) Using the slider just above the "Change Scenario" button, change the number of SDs or LDs to the appropriate number (50 for Senate, 203 for House). It may take a moment for the districts to appear in the bottom-left box.

6) Toward the top right, in the "Color By" box, click "Old SDs" or "Old LDs" as appropriate. This will fill in the map based on the districts created a decade ago.

7) Begin re-mapping!

The April primary is looming, and signature-gathering has already started. Also, one of the judges has nonrefundable tickets to Aruba! Therefore, time is of the essence in delivering your plan. Points will be added for earlier submissions. You can post your maps as comments here, or as separate diary entries (Google docs is a good place to host your DRF files).

Although this will be a no-bid contract, we're sorry to say that your renumeration will be bupkis even if the judges choose your plan. The District Court is facing a budget crunch, so there is no money left to pay you (and no pastries either: one of the judges is on a diet!). Good luck!

This hasn't actually happened yet, but this mini-contest is inspired by the very real possibility that it might.

Extended (Optional)

Originally posted to andgarden on Thu Feb 09, 2012 at 06:11 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos Elections.

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