League of Women Voters of Virginia receives “Empowering Democracy Award”
Congratulations to the League of Women Voters of Virginia! LWV-VA has been awarded the LWVUS Powering Democracy Award for its redistricting efforts. The League was one of 3 state League finalists vying for this national award. Virginia was one of the few states able to realize redistricting success this cycle. A huge shout out to our partners and the many volunteers across Virginia who worked tirelessly to empower voters and advocate for this historic change.
Particular thanks to co-leaders Chris DeRosa (Arlington/Alexandria) and Fran Larkins (Fredericksburg) and the Redistricting Observer Corps – Candy Butler (Fairfax), Carolyn Caywood (SHR), Sara Fitzgerald (Falls Church) and Peggy Layne (Montgomery). They attended every meeting and hearing. Their blog captured the proceedings of the Commission and Special Masters/Virginia Supreme Court and helped ensure transparency – a key in making citizen voices from diverse communities were heard.
Understanding Changes in Virginia’s Districts
Now that maps for Virginia’s legislative districts have been finalized by the Supreme Court of Virginia, members of the LWV-VA have an important role in educating and otherwise assisting voters in understanding the changes in their new districts and learning who their representatives are.
Who is my current representative?
While the new election districts took effect immediately in December 2021, current representatives will continue to provide services to their constituents until after the next general elections are held. The Code of Virginia § 24.2-311 states “Members of Congress and the General Assembly in office on the effective date of the decennial redistricting legislation shall complete their terms of office. The elections for their successors shall be held at the November general election next preceding the expiration of the terms of office of the incumbent.” For the U.S. Congress, this will be November 8, 2022. Virginia state senators will be in office until November 2023. The Goldman vs Brink et al court case was dismissed on June 6, 2022 but a new lawsuit was filed by Jeffrey Thomas on June 8. Federal Judge David J. Novak agreed to an expedited schedule with initial filings to be made by early July. Past and current Loudoun County NAACP presidents also signed on as plaintiffs. On Monday, August 1, Federal Judge David Novak granted a motion to dismiss the lawsuit seeking 2022 Virginia House elections with updated districts. Judge Novak ruled that the plaintiffs – author Jeff Thomas, Loudoun County NAACP President Rev. Michelle Thomas and attorney Phillip Thompson – lack standing and that the Eastern District of Virginia “lacks subject matter jurisdiction.” @8NEWS reported that Thomas has said he won’t appeal the decision. The House will now be up for election again on new maps in 2023.
How have my election districts changed? When is the next election? Who are the candidates?
Local registrars will send out postcards confirming polling locations, but it is a confusing time for voters. Several excellent Web sites are available to help with their questions.
This League of Women Voters Web site is a “one-stop-shop” for nonpartisan voting information. By entering your address, you have access to personalized ballot and candidate information with upcoming election and registration dates. There are links to determine your polling place; verify your voter registration or register to vote; and learn about ID requirements, absentee voting, and more. Candidate responses to questionnaires that were sent to them by the League will be posted here.
Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP)
A nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, VPAP has ensured detailed information on redistricting is available to Virginia voters, beginning with a link to the “Approved Maps” on the first page. Then enter your address to see how the new maps will impact you. Select the House, Senate or U.S. House tab to see the new and previous district numbers, an overlay of the two maps, and your current member of Congress, Virginia state senator and delegate. Click on “Details of the new district” for a “District Profile” with map, demographics, and “partisan lean.”
Who’s My Legislator
This service is once again available from the House and Senate Clerk’s Offices of the Virginia General Assembly. When you enter your address, you will be able to view your current member of Congress, Virginia state senator and delegate and the current district boundary. You can then use the tab to view the new boundary and an explanation of when the changes will take place.
THIS PAGE CONTINUES WITH HISTORICAL INFORMATION AND LINKS TO THE FINAL MAPS APPROVED BY SCoVA ON DECEMBER 28, 2021. It also provides information and background on the Virginia Redistricting Commission prior to maps going to the Virginia Supreme Court.
Final Maps Unanimously Approved by SCoVA
On December 28, the Supreme Court of Virginia released the final maps for the 2020 – 2021 round of redistricting, as prepared by two Court-appointed special masters. The “Final Order and Approved Maps” are available on the SCoVA web site. The maps were accompanied by a 63 page memo written by the two special masters which explains the reasoning behind their final maps and the choices they had made in revising them after two days of public hearings and a review of public comments.
For your convenience, here are individual links to the approved maps –
Additional sources of information related to the 2020 – 2021 Redistricting Process
“New Voting Maps in Virginia” – 30-minute Radio Conversation with WEHC’s Teresa Keller and Peggy Layne (LWV-Montgomery Co.) and Chris DeRosa, Co-Coordinator, LWV-VA Redistricting Committee. Aired January 5 and 9.
Redistricting Report Card from the Princeton Gerrymandering Project on The Virginia 2021 Special Masters’ Final Maps. Released January 3, 2022.
LWV-VA Redistricting Blog – regular reporting by League members of Virginia’s redistricting process from selection of Virginia Redistricting Commissioners in January 2021 to release of final maps by SCoVA on December 28. It continues with information on the Goldman court case, the only challenge to Virginia’s redistricting.
Supreme Court of Virginia’s “Redistricting Information” page – includes proposed maps, recordings of public hearings, and public comment emails until 12-20-21 (1 p.m.)
Virginia Supreme Court’s role in redistricting in the Virginia Code
“Rules and Procedures for Implementing the Requirements of Article II, Section 6-A of the Constitution of Virginia”
Court’s instructions to the Special Masters
Virginia Redistricting Commission – information and background prior to maps going to Supreme Court of Virginia
Redistricting at the Local Level
Most Virginia counties and many local jurisdictions will have to redraw their district boundaries, now that the 2020 Census has been completed. Click here for more information about redistricting at the local level.
The League of Women Voters of Virginia first formally studied redistricting in 1983 in order to form a position from which to advocate. However, archival materials housed at the Library of Virginia indicate an interest as far back as 1952. Our current position was updated in 2007.
Gerrymandering runs counter to equal voting rights for all eligible voters. It can amount to illegal voter suppression, as some communities gain disproportionate representation and others lose the ability to elect candidates of their choice.
The League of Women Voters opposes partisan and racial gerrymandering. The League supports publicly transparent processes and supports processes designed to improve fair representation.
Other Resources on Redistricting
VPAP (Virginia Public Access Project)
Brennan Center for Justice
National Conference of State Legislatures