The People’s Maps Process

Districts belong to the people of PA. Not incumbents. Not legislative leaders. That’s why any mapping process should be transparent, with clearly defined values and ample opportunity for public input and feedback.

The Legislative Reapportionment Commission has final authority over PA House and Senate district maps. Our goal is to provide examples of maps that incorporate public input, represent communities and show how to balance priorities embedded in the PA Constitution and legal precedent. The PA People’s Maps have been submitted to the Legislative Reapportionment Commission for their consideration as they continue their own mapping process.

The Mapping Process

The Fair Districts PA mapping process began with a contest, inviting citizen mappers to share their best efforts at drawing maps that reflect the criteria that were embedded in LACRA, (the Legislative and Congressional Redistricting Act, House Bill 22 and Senate Bill 222). On a tight timeline in July 2021, two dozen mappers submitted thirty maps that showed that even high school students can draw maps with better metrics than our current legislative maps.

Mapping experts helped select the best five from each category, then several winning mappers updated their maps to reflect Census 2020 data. Ideas and solutions from winning maps were incorporated creating initial draft maps, then communities across PA were invited to meet, discuss and offer ideas and feedback as the new maps were revised.

The LACRA criteria and values guided the initial maps and shaped the conversations and adjustments done across an eight week span by a small team of mappers working in constant conversation with local Fair Districts PA coordinators.

Key values were constantly held in tension:

No county was divided more than numerically necessary plus one for senate, plus two for house. No precinct was divided. Municipalities were split as little as possible. No school district was split more than mathematically necessary plus one.

Community input was central from start to finish, with constant reference to historic groupings of schools into intermediate units, of counties into workforce development zones, and with substantial input from across the state about communities of interest.

Metrics and Guidelines

Metrics were consulted as a floor, with the goal of far surpassing current maps from the 2011 redistricting process, while matching or exceeding the median scores of contest winners on key LACRA values. As feedback was collated, patterns and guidelines emerged. One clear principle governed the process: when in doubt, ask local residents. See the FAQ for more details.

Community Conversations & Input

Fair Districts PA hosted three statewide town halls on mapping. Local coordinators in every part of PA helped organize mapping conversations with a wide mix of stakeholders, including city administrators, township supervisors, county commissioners, local press, academics, local chapters of the League of Women Voters, NAACP, denominational action committees, and dozens of local and statewide advocacy groups. Conversations also took place during virtual Mapping Monday Office Hours and many meetings including local leaders and mappers. Volunteers presented at official redistricting hearings, followed public input by watching every hearing, transcribing oral testimony, reading available submitted written testimony, and collating relevant data and comments into a document for our mappers to review.

Additional feedback was collected from feedback forms and surveys. All this work took place within two months starting from the announcement of contest winners on August 20.

Of great importance in the discussion: how to maximize representation for Black and Brown communities. A forum, Mapping toward Racial Equity, helped clarify the historical importance and complex legal framework for Voting Rights Section 2 districts. Consultants from national legal defense organizations offered guidance on mapping areas with growing minority presence.

Both the house and senate drafts include input from Black and Brown community leaders in key parts of the commonwealth. The House map also incorporates unity maps developed by Pennsylvania Voice and the more than forty PA organizations they partner with. In counties where more than 100 participants submitted maps, draft districts were created incorporating that input, then finalized by a vote with community members. Specific unity districts are 26, 27 and 37 in Pittsburgh, 82 in York, 188 in Lancaster, 123 and 124 in Reading and 190 in Philadelphia. Several of the districts were amended slightly to address precinct splits and balance populations in surrounding districts.

Any good map will require cycles of collaboration, compromise, review and revision. There is no perfect final map. There is no map that will please everyone completely. We believe our maps are the first of their kind in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania: house and senate maps that reflect the hopes and determination of Pennsylvanians who believe in government of, by and for the people.

Provide your feedback to the LRC

Now that our maps have been submitted to the Legislative Reapportionment Committee, take a look at the maps, and tell the LRC where you live and what elements of the maps and mapping process you would like to see replicated in the committee’s final version.

Explore the PA People's Maps