A Half-Century of Virginia Redistricting Battles: Shifting from Rural Malapportionment to Voting Rights to Public Participation

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Over the past fifty years, the battle lines in Virginia redistricting have shifted from within-party fighting among Democrats primarily over malapportionment favoring rural interests over urban interests to battles over voting rights. In this article, we provide a detailed history of redistricting in Virginia, and a quantitative analysis of current adopted and proposed redistricting plans. Surprisingly, although the outcome remained partisan, the current round of redistricting included an unprecedented level of public engagement, catalyzed by information technology. The Virginia commission and the participation of students in the current round of Virginia’s redistricting demonstrates that redistricting does not have to be left up to the ‘professionals.’ Further, our analysis suggests that state-level reform in the form of an independent commission that strictly follows a set of administrative criteria would likely modestly benefit Republicans.


Last updated on 03/22/2015