West Virginia
Congressional BoundariesDrawn by legislature
State BoundariesDrawn by legislature
Governor's PartyRepublican
Legislative PartyRepublican

Census-related Redistricting Timeline Delays

State Legislative

Alert:
Elevated

Congressional

Alert:
Elevated

Process

State Legislature

West Virginia's state legislative and congressional district lines are drawn by the Legislature by ordinary statute, and are subject to the Governor's veto. The Legislature can override vetoes with a simple majority vote in each chamber.

Criteria

In addition to the federal requirements of one person, one vote and the Voting Rights Act, West Virginia’s state constitution requires that state legislative (Art. I, § 4) and congressional (Art. VI, § 4) districts be compact, contiguous, and preserve county lines. The Senate Redistricting Act of 2011 further required that state Senate districts take into account communities of interest.

Public Input

While West Virginia law does not require public hearings, the Senate Redistricting Task Force held nine informal public meetings between May and July 2011. On the other hand, the state House redistricting committee faced criticism for failing to hold similar statewide hearings, opting instead for open meetings only at the capitol. Beyond hearings, the Legislature accepted public comments on existing districts online.

2011 Cycle

In the 2011 redistricting cycle, West Virginia faced a number of legal challenges over both its state legislative and congressional redistricting plans. The state Supreme Court rejected five challenges to the state Senate plan, finding it to be constitutionally acceptable. On the other hand, a federal court struck down the congressional plan, finding it to be in violation of equal population requirements. However, the Supreme Court reversed the decision, finding that the slight population disparity was justified by adherence to other legitimate criteria, such as maintaining political subdivisions and avoiding contests between incumbents.

Issues

Pitfalls

Beginning in 2021, West Virginia will redistrict its state Legislature entirely with single-member districts instead of a mix of single-member and multi-member districts. This will increase the number of legislative districts, which in turn increases the number of opportunities for partisan offenses to be committed.

Congressional Seats

Following the 2020 Census apportionment results, West Virginia lost one congressional seat.

Potential Reform

During the 2020 regular legislative session, state legislators carried over HB2445, a bill that would have created an Independent Redistricting Commission, though final ratification of plans would still have been left to a vote by the full Legislature. The bill included provisions for redistricting criteria, public input, and a report explaining the Commission’s proposals. Unfortunately, both bills died when the Legislature adjourned; still, they may serve as examples to inform future reform efforts.

Actions

In 2021, participate in the public input process.

  • Obtain West 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.

Read the Common Cause Activist Handbook on Redistricting Reform to learn about what reforms have been successful in the past, and what steps to take to enact reform in the future. 

Contacts

League of Women Voters of West Virginia

West Virginia Citizens for Clean Elections

Sources

All About Redistricting

NCSL

Ballotpedia