Virginia Senate approves state legislative redistricting plan
By Tyler Millhouse
RICHMOND, Virginia: The Virginia State Senate approved a redistricting plan Thursday afternoon which sets new boundaries for the state's 40 senate districts. The decision comes on the heals of a house redistricting plan approved late Wednesday night. The senate merged their plan and the house plan as House Bill 5001.
The senate-approved maps successfully met their variance requirement of 2% or less, with districts averaging a 1.13% (or 2,270-resident) variance. Although the house plan enjoyed bi-partisan support, passing 86-8, the senate plan was approved by a 22-18 margin along partisan lines. Democrats control the Senate by a 22-18 margin. Overall, the senate plan has been more controversial. Republican critics cite a number of divided communities and contorted districts as significant faults. However, Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw (D) called the maps "even-handed" and argued that the criticisms were unwarranted.
Racial issues have also played into the controversy. Republicans argue that the senate maps dilute minorities votes and should have created more majority-minority districts in order to comply with the Voting Rights Act. However, Democrats charge that Republicans are misinterpreting the act and are attempting to concentrate and isolate minority voters.
In either case, both the house and senate plans are expected to benefit majority incumbents in their respective chambers. In the Senate, Democratic maps will consolidate two Republican districts in Virginia Beach and favor Democratic incumbents on the Peninsula. In the House of Delegates, the Republican plan will eliminate a Democratic district in Norfolk and dilute local Democratic districts while strengthening Republican districts on the Peninsula.
- Redistricting in Virginia
- Virginia House of Delegates elections, 2011
- Virginia State Senate elections, 2011
- Legislative Information System, HB 5001, Bill History
- Senate Plan, Redistricting Documents and Details
- Senate Plan, Interactive Map
- House Plan, Redistricting Documents and Details
- House Plan, Interactive Map
- Washington Post, "Senate Dems pair remap plan with House GOP bill and pass it; heads for showdown in House," April 7, 2011
- Authors calculations from Division of Legislative Services, HB 5001, "Population, Demographics, Election Data, Voting Age Population"
- Roanoke.com, "State Senate OKs redistricting plan," April 8, 2011
- Fredericksburg.com, "State redistricting maps have critics," 3/31/2011
- Daily Press, "Virginia redistricting fight begins; Senate and House release proposals," March 29, 2011
- TriCities.com, "Redistricting maps headed for showdown Monday," April 08, 2011