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Gannon student named a champion in Draw the Lines PA mapping contest

Draw the Lines PA is celebrating its champion citizen mapper at PA Map Day on March 18

Draw the Lines PA is celebrating its champion citizen mapper at PA Map Day on March 18

Gannon University’s Ryan Cedzo, a senior mathematics student, will be honored by Draw the Lines PA as one of its champion citizen mappers at a PA Map Day event on March 18 in the State Capitol in Harrisburg. Cedzo took first place in the Higher Education Division – Western Region.  

Draw the Lines PA is a statewide civic education and engagement initiative for Pennsylvanians to draw election maps. Citizens can participate in efforts to draw maps through competition.

This year, more than $28,000 prizes will be handed out to award winners of the 2019 mapping contest from across Pennsylvania during the ceremony.

Judges of the competition said they were impressed with Ryan’s performance.

“We were impressed that Ryan met all of his stated goals and was able to get 13 competitive districts in a map that was not crazy. Ryan’s essay set his submission apart with its clear explanation of the tradeoffs required between competitive elections and compactness, given Pennsylvania’s geography and demographics,” they said.

PA Map Day will fill the Capitol’s Main Rotunda as the clock ticks toward the deadline for the state to enact meaningful redistricting reform. New election maps get drawn in 2021. 

“The citizen maps that we’ll be honoring and displaying on PA Map Day prove that Pennsylvanians are ready, willing and able to play a big role in drawing election maps for real,” said David Thornburgh, president and CEO of the Committee of Seventy, the Philadelphia good government group that runs Draw the Lines PA.

Since launching in fall 2018, Draw the Lines has grown into the largest citizen-mapping competition in the nation’s history. Overall, more than 5,000 Pennsylvanians have worked on more than 8,200 maps, filing more than a thousand formal contest entries. About $87,000 in prizes has been awarded to a hundred-plus citizen mappers.

Many of the honorees are young Pennsylvanians who attend one of the 103 high schools or 48 colleges to take part in DTL. They include 3-time winners such as Kyle Hynes of State College Area H.S., William Billingsley of Wilkes University and Nathaniel Ropski, an instructor at Gannon University. 

This year, DTL welcomes some fresh faces into its circle of honor, such as the trio of Cumberland Valley High School students who call themselves The Anti-Gerrymandering Gals. Outstanding teams from Cedar Cliff High School near Wilkes Barre, Delone Catholic near Gettysburg and Masterman in Philadelphia are also being honored. 

“To me, the remarkable work of the young people from across the Commonwealth whom DTL has inspired should be a lesson for our General Assembly about its obligation to address gerrymandering,” said Frederick Thieman, a former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania and a co-chair of DTL’s steering committees.

Former Gov. Mark Schweiker, another co-chair, added: “This project is about restoring the missing center of our politics in Pennsylvania. In our mappers’ essays, you see them trying so hard to be fair, to counter polarization, to make sure every one’s vote counts.”

DTL added a new twist in the fall 2019 competition round, its third. For the first time, participants could draw state Senate and House maps, in addition to the Pennsylvania congressional map that was the focus of the first two rounds. Congressional maps were drawn on the DistrictBuilder platform built by Azavea, a Philadelphia software firm.  State maps were done on Dave’s Redistricting App, a free website developed by a former Microsoft engineer.

Each mapper picks up to three goals for a map, then writes an essay explaining how they worked toward those goals. Entrants wrote about factoring in data about things such as watersheds, economic zones, hunger levels and the Cook Political Report Partisan Voter Index. Maps are judged by DTL steering committee members. 

Regional honorees, earning prizes of $100 to $500, have already been named in two of DTL’s three divisions: Youth and Higher Education. (The Pottstown Area Health and Wellness Foundation underwrote prizes for the East Youth division.)

Statewide champs in those divisions along with state winners in the adult division and the legislative mapping contest will be announced on PA Map Day (March 18) at 1 p.m. in the Capitol’s Main Rotunda. Statewide prizes range from $1,000 to $5,000.

Also honored will be eight educators who have used DTL creatively with their students: William Rosenberg, Drexel University; Beth Campbell Hetrick, Gettysburg College; Steve Adams, Whitehall H.S.; Matt Matyas, Crestwood H.S.; Amy Dando and Sergio Santiago, Cedar Cliff H.S.; John Fournie, Delone Catholic H.S.; Jen Klein, Fox Chapel H.S.; and Robert Saveikis, Greater Latrobe H.S.

Earlier on PA Map Day, visitors from all the Commonwealth will fan out around the Capitol on a “Scavenger Map Hunt.”  Teams of DTL champion mappers from each region (Teams Coal, Steel, Nittany, Erie, Capitol and Lenape) will be scattered around the building doing live mapping demonstrations. People who find all six demo sites and get their scavenger cards stamped will be entered to win more than $1,000 in prizes. Mappers and visitors will also be encouraged to visit their lawmakers’ offices to share their views on redistricting reform.

Draw the Lines PA is funded by grants from the following philanthropies: William Penn Foundation, Hillman Foundation, Benedum Foundation, Heinz Endowments, Grable Foundation, Pittsburgh Foundation, Independence Foundation, and Pottstown Area Health and Wellness Foundation.

For more information on the contest and DTL, visit drawthelinespa.org.

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