One of the most critical yet opaque decisions that governments make is the redrawing of legislative district lines every 10 years after the U.S. Census. These lines, and the multitude of small decisions involved in crafting them, can be a crucial factor in ultimately determining who wins and who loses our elections.

On Dec. 16, the bipartisan Pennsylvania Legislative Reapportionment Commission, made up of two Democrats, two Republicans, and chaired by Mark Nordenberg, the former chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh, released its proposed legislative maps for the Pennsylvania Senate and House of Representatives. After a 30-day period for public input, the commission can then respond by making changes before the map is finalized.

» READ MORE: Takeaways from the proposed Pennsylvania House and Senate Redistricting

Pennsylvania’s political geography inherently favors Republicans, as the state’s Democrats are concentrated in dense urban neighborhoods and suburbs, with Republicans spread more evenly across the commonwealth’s rural areas and exurbs. This means that, despite Pennsylvania’s purple state reputation, legislative maps will tend to favor the GOP by default. The proposed maps reflect that reality, with 104 of the 203 districts of the Pennsylvania House and 27 of the 50 state Senate districts leaning toward Republicans, according to an Inquirer analysis performed by the Princeton Gerrymandering Project.

That said, the maps represent a more favorable balance for Pennsylvania’s Democrats than the status quo, as Republicans currently hold 113 seats in the House and 29 seats in the Senate. By consolidating districts with declining populations, the new House map also has the potential to create multiple primaries between Republican incumbents. While some Republicans have claimed malfeasance and GOP representatives on the commission voted against the proposed House maps, these changes are the result of a population decline in rural areas and an increase in population for Pennsylvania’s cities — and the commission didn’t utilize partisan data while making the maps. Philadelphia alone has grown by approximately one state House district since the 2010 Census. Additionally, the commission rightly prioritized increasing opportunities for representation for Pennsylvania’s growing Latino population.

» READ MORE: A conversation with Mark Nordenberg, chairman of the Legislative Reapportionment Commission

In fact, in some ways, the proposed House map is the better of the two proposals, despite the complaints. While a relative lack of protection for incumbents may shock the sensibilities of Harrisburg politicos, it could lead to districts that more accurately represent the changing demographics of communities around the state. In Northeast Philadelphia, the 177th and 172nd Districts have stopped sprawling across multiple neighborhoods, and the 170th no longer resembles Star Wars’ Millennium Falcon.

By contrast, on the Senate map, a desire to protect incumbents left the contours of the 2nd District unchanged — rather than modifying the district to ease the election of a Latino state senator to serve the city’s growing Latino community — despite the stated intentions of the commission to prioritize inclusion.

During the 30-day period provided for feedback on the maps, it is essential that the commission listen most closely to the voices of residents advocating for the kind of fair districts that best represent our commonwealth’s diverse communities — the type of districts exemplified by the House map — rather than allowing the conversation to be dominated by incumbents who prioritize easy reelections over building compact and representative districts.