Citizens are better at redistricting than Council

Chris Satullo writes about the FixPhillyDistricts citizen mapping contest, sponsored by the Daily News, WHYY and Azavea:

More than 1,200 maps were started on by more than 400 people. Some people and teams did many maps before submitting to the contest the one they liked best.

The contest reaped 70 fully valid maps, meeting all legal and contest standards. (See slideshow.) Maps came in from as far away as Boston, Dallas and Erie. The guy from Erie said the exercise helped him stay sane while recuperating from surgery. (Glad to help, sir.)

I will state this boldly: Every last, single, blinking one of the citizen maps is far superior to the current mess, and likely better than what Council in the end will propose.

Why did citzens do better than officials? Not because redistricting is easy: Contestants had to choose between various hard-to-reconcile priorities. But they had at least one major advantage:

Almost no one who did a map gave a hoot where incumbent Council people lived, or how the new district lines would affect their re-election chances.

We'll have a lot more on the redistricting process on Tuesday, incuding some ideas for how to fix its structural problems. We'll also post the winning map, which we'll invite you to compare to the city's current atrocity. For now, you can see a slideshow of entries with Satullo's post.

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