October 26, 2021

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Redistricting effort still linked to race, according to Virginia Tech expert

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The clock is ticking for the Virginia Redistricting Commission, as it works to re-draw election district maps. Racial representation remains a leading obstacle, according to Virginia Tech political expert Nicholas Goedert.

“The biggest remaining issue will be the philosophy behind the drawing of districts to facilitate the representation of racial minorities, especially Black voters in central and southeast Virginia,” said Goedert, an assistant professor of political science at Virginia Tech, who is an authority on the topic of gerrymandering, redistricting and the impact on elections.

“The initial maps from the Republican consultants tend to pack Black voters in a smaller number of districts, while Democrats on the commission would like to create more new opportunities for Black representation by spreading Black voters across more districts.”

The state’s first bipartisan, citizen-led redistricting commission has an October 10 deadline to submit its’ recommendations to the General Assembly.  Failure to reach an agreement would send the matter to the Virginia Supreme Court.

“The changes that will need to be made by the commission to merge the maps are likely to be more micro- than macro-level decisions, and these sorts of decisions may be more amenable to compromise even in a highly partisan environment,” said Goedert.

Congressional maps are due from the commission just two weeks after the state legislative maps.

“We still have basically no idea what these might look like.  Even if the commission is successful in passing state legislative maps, the congressional maps are likely to garner more national attention and will be an even trickier test of the new commission system,” he said.

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