Redistricting Commission to Review Timeline for Its Work

The Virginia Redistricting Commission will consider a draft timeline for its work over the next year when it meets on March 30. In addition, members will receive training on the requirements of the Virginia Freedom of Information Act.

The meeting can be accessed through this link.  Persons who wish to make public comments during the March 30 meeting can register here. Person who wish to comment on an agenda item should send an email to . (Comments will be posted in full, including the name of the commenter and any contact information provided.)

The proposed timeline envisions a six-stage process, tied to the receipt of the U.S. Census data, which has been delayed this year. In the draft, the Division of Legislative Services (DLS) anticipates receiving the Census data by the second week of August, an earlier date than the U.S. Census Bureau had previously announced. (Normally, Virginia and New Jersey receive their data earlier than other states, but this year’s delays will mean that House of Delegates districts will not change for this year’s elections.)

Under the constitutional amendment, the commission has 45 days to prepare its maps for the Senate and House of Delegates for consideration by the General Assembly. Under the amendment, Congressional maps must be submitted within 60 days. In addition, enabling legislation specified that once the Census data is received, DLS must adjust it within 30 days to reflect the home addresses of prison inmates. 

The timeline sets short-term meeting dates for April 13, April 27, and May 11, all beginning at 10 a.m. The agendas are for the early meetings are largely focused on administrative decisions and training for the commissioners.  Here is the proposed schedule:

Phase 1: Preparation for Commission Work—March to April: During this time, commissioners would receive training on administrative issues, set the commission’s budget, and develop procedures for public participation and keeping a record of commission meetings.

Phase 2: Education and Training—April to May: Commissioners would receive training on redistricting, the census, the mechanics of redistricting and mapping tools, including CityGate, the main mapping software it will use.

Phase 3: Commission Planning—June: During this time, the commission will develop its schedule of public hearings, a work plan for map drawing, and guidelines for map drawing by the public. It will also procure any equipment or resources it needs.

Phase 4: Practical Preparation and Public Outreach—July to August: The commission anticipates holding its first round of public hearings during this time, and teaching commissioners, meeting in small groups, how to use mapping software.

Phase 5: Receipt of Census Data, Map Drawing—September to October: This can be expected to be the commission’s busiest time, immediately after it receives the Census data. The commission expects to schedule its constitutionally required public hearings at that time and to draw and approve maps to submit to the General Assembly.

Phase 6: After the plans are submitted: The commission anticipates continuing to monitor General Assembly action on its maps, and then drawing and approving additional maps, if necessary.

–Sara Fitzgerald, LWV-Falls Church

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