Virginia
Congressional BoundariesDrawn by hybrid politician commission
State BoundariesDrawn by hybrid politician commission
Governor's PartyDemocratic
Legislative PartyDemocratic

Census-related Redistricting Timeline Delays

Congressional

Alert:
Low

State Legislative

Alert:
Elevated

Related content

Process

Hybrid Commission

Starting in 2021, following voters' approval of the Redistricting Commission Amendment, Virginia's maps will be drawn by a 16-member bipartisan commission composed of 8 legislators and 8 citizens. A map must be approved by 3/4 of both the legislative and citizen members in order to pass. The General Assembly has the final vote, but it cannot amend the maps itself.

Criteria

In addition to the federal requirements of one person, one vote and the Voting Rights Act, Virginia’s state constitution (Art. II § 6) requires that state legislative and congressional districts be compact and contiguous. Furthermore, the Legislature passed identical criteria bills (SB717/HB1255) into law in 2020, which include state-level Voting Rights Act language, protections for communities of interest, and a prohibition on partisan gerrymandering when considering a map on a state-wide basis. SB717/HB1255 also ends prison gerrymandering in Virginia, requiring that prisoners are counted at their last-known residence rather than their location of incarceration.

Public Input

Under the new amendment, the Commission must hold at least three public hearings in different parts of the state and consider comments from the public.

2011 Cycle

In 2011, the Governor issued an executive order creating an advisory commission to solicit public input and recommend state legislative and congressional districts to the Legislature, which was able to adopt, modify, or ignore the commission's proposals. The Governor selected five citizens of each major political party to serve as commissioners, as well as an independent chair. However, the Legislature ignored the work of the commission.

The maps adopted by the Legislature in 2011 led to extensive litigation. Notably, a trial court repeatedly found the congressional maps to be drawn predominantly on the basis of race, ultimately implementing a remedial plan by a special master. Challenges to the state legislative plans were largely unsuccessful. Meanwhile, the Governor vetoed a number of mid-decade legislative redistricting plans passed by the Legislature.

Issues

Pitfalls

This will be Virginia’s first cycle without the protections of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which was struck down in the 2013 Supreme Court case Shelby County v. Holder. In the absence of preclearance requirements to protect communities of color, observers should closely monitor every step of the redistricting process to ensure fair treatment for all.

Potential Reform

Actions

In 2021, participate in the public input process.

  • Obtain Virginia redistricting data from OpenPrecincts.
  • Start to plan out what defines your community – whether it’s a shared economic interest, school districts, or other social or other cultural, historical, or economic interests – and how that can be represented on a map. This will come in handy once the Legislature starts collecting feedback.
  • Use software tools such as Dave's Redistricting App and Districtr to draw district maps showing either (a) what a fair map would look like, or (b) where the community you believe should be better represented is located.

Contacts

OneVirginia2021

New Virginia Majority

League of Women Voters Virginia

Virginia Civic Engagement Table

Virginia Organizing

Sources

All About Redistricting

NCSL

Ballotpedia