After two months in Richmond, it is good to be home. I look forward to meeting with organizations to talk about session and how it might affect those in the area. Feel free to email me if you want for me to speak with your group. I hear many questions about our time during Session. Today I will be talking about Redistricting and the affects that Redistricting will have on you and your family.
Many have asked me about the redistricting process that the General Assembly will tackle when we meet for reconvened session in April. The questions have ranged from why must our districts change to when will the changes occur and how will they affect us. The reason why is the easiest to answer. Just over forty years ago the United States Supreme Court ruled that states must redraw districts so that the voting power of any group in a district is not changed- this is referred to as "one man one vote". Since that ruling, after each 10 year census has been completed, states and localities are required to redraw lines that create districts that are close to the same in population. Therefore this is the year that must occur.
Colleges Help Redistricting
As the General Assembly committee is now working through the process, thirteen Virginia colleges are working independently doing the same thing. This project has fifteen teams of students attempting to create districts that are void of the political thought process of the General Assembly. These student plans will be pitted against each other in competition to determine who has drawn the fairest map. Fair redistricting should be the goal of every one's effort however; redistricting is much like beauty. It is in the eye of the beholder. Those in one community may believe they should be in the same district as a neighboring community. However, to meet the standards set by the federal judges, this often can be a problem. Likewise, many communities want to be in the center of their district not on the outer edge.
The greatest challenges are how to adjust the lines to address loss of population in Tidewater and Southwest Virginia. If a district is eliminated in one or both of those areas, our district could be drawn east or west. The fifteenth district grew by 16,000 is the last decade. This leaves our district only 9,000 people short of ideal. At this point the 15th District could grow east, west, or north. However it cannot grow south into North Carolina- that is the only given.
15th Senate District