Virginia Redistricting: Part II

by Matt Morris // Published April 13, 2011
VAstatelegPlan21

As explained  in Matt Morris' previous blog post on redistricting and Dean Searcy's blog on New Jersey legislative districts, FairVote proposes a better way to provide voters with real choices and fair representation than the highly problematic process of legislative redistricting. We prefer multi-member "super districts" with a proportional voting system rather than winner-take-all elections that give so much power to those crafting district lines.

As in his first example with Virginia's congressional districts, Matt used maps and data from the Virginia Redistricting Competition to construct alternative plans for the Virginia's State Legislature. Given that the University of Richmond team received first place in the Governor's Commission category, we decided to use its map. We simply combined five adjoining House of Delegates seats to create one super district, and then combined two of these super-districts to form he State Senate super districts. Each of our 20 super districts for the House of Delegates is designed to elect five seats, and each of our ten State Senate super districts has four seats.

Using a proportional voting system like choice voting in elections for the House of Delegates, a candidate could one seat with the strong support of about 17% of the vote, with a majority of three seats being won with 51%. In the four-seat super districts for the state senate, each seat could be won with about 20% of the vote. Based on the partisanship numbers, every single super districts would be highly likely to have shared representation -- meaning that every voter in the state would have representatives of both major parties and potentially more independents and some small parties. In addition, most, if not all super districts, would be competitive in every election for partisan control of at least one seat, putting every voter in a competitive race. No winner-take-all system comes remotely close to such elections. In contrast, the prize-winning plan from the University of Richmond created only 28 delegate districts that were competitive.

As for representation of racial minorities, African American voters would be well-positioned to elect 15 candidates of choice in a total of 11 of  the House of Delegates super districts and four candidates in the 10 state senate super districts, with additional chances in every single district to elect or directly influence the election of representatives. The prize-winning plan created only 12 African American majority delegate districts, leaving a a far greater number of African American in districts with little chance even to influence the election of a representative of choice.

Furthermore, the voting-age population of Latinos would be in double digits in five delegate super districts and two state senate super districts -- and more than the 17% threshold of representation in two delegate districts. Yet Latino voters do not make up a majority of the vote in any winner-take-all district plan.

Below are our plans:

Terminology: "Black VAP" refers to the share of voting age population that is African American. "Partisan (Dem.)" refers to the percentage of voters who are projected to vote Democratic in a close statewide races, based on a determination used in the Virginia Redistricting Competition. Note that the partisanship provided can just as easily define the Republican partisanship, which is simply the "mirror" percentage -- meaning a 40.1% partisan district is 59.9% Republican.

House of Delegates

Districts
(Five seats)

(Prev. Numbers)

Pop.

Partisan (Dem.)*

Black VAP*

1

1,2,3,4,5

   404,421

37.45%

2.80%

2

6,7,8,9,10

   403,026

46.07%

8.98%

3

14,16,23,22,60

   399,606

42.09%

26.71%

4

61,75,63,66,62

   402,337

48.31%

37.43%

5

11,12,17,19,25

   405,457

45.38%

10.74%

6

56,56,58,57,24

   399,152

49.71%

16.06%

7

65,27,70,69,68

   405,331

56.04%

31.72%

8

55,72,73,71,74

   399,483

55.98%

27.05%

9

76,78,80,77,79

   406,329

55.58%

38.63%

10

81,84,21,83,82

   407,932

45.97%

20.38%

11

89,90,87,95,92

   397,619

67.34%

45.19%

12

94,91,96,64,100

   398,057

47.46%

23.88%

13

97,98,99,54,28

   400,522

41.75%

18.69%

14

30,88,31,13,85

   394,096

44.58%

17.83%

15

52,51,42,44,43

   395,413

58.27%

20.56%

16

40,50,41,39,37

   393,127

53.37%

7.84%

17

46,45,49,38,47

   400,492

71.81%

14.79%

18

35,53,48,34,36

   394,289

61.64%

5.26%

19

93,67,33,86,32

   395,722

49.19%

8.33%

20

26,29,15,18,20

   398,613

38.78%

4.82%

* Average percentages from single member districts

 

 

State Senate

Districts
(Four seats)

(Prev. Numbers)

Pop.

Partisan (Dem.)*

Black VAP*

1

1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10

   807,447

41.76%

5.89%

2

14,16,23,22,60,61,75,63,66,62

   801,943

45.20%

32.07%

3

11,12,17,19,25,59,56,58,57,24

   804,609

47.55%

13.40%

4

65,27,70,69,68,55,72,73,71,74

   804,814

56.01%

29.39%

5

76,78,80,77,79,81,84,21,83,82

   814,261

50.78%

29.51%

6

89,90,87,95,92,94,91,96,64,100

   795,676

57.40%

34.54%

7

97,98,99,54,28,30,88,31,13,85

   794,618

43.17%

18.26%

8

52,51,42,44,43,40,50,41,39,37

   788,540

55.82%

14.20%

9

46,45,49,38,47,35,53,48,34,36

   794,781

66.73%

10.03%

10

93,67,33,86,32,26,29,15,18,20

   794,335

43.99%

6.58%

* Average percentages from single member districts



 

 

As the data shows, there are more opportunities for minorities to elect representatives, as well as a fairly even distribution of partisanship so that one party does clearly dominate.