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State redistricting maps have critics
District relines released

View the state's interactive Redistricting Plans map

Date published: 3/31/2011

The redistricting maps drawn by the House and Senate majority parties have one thing in common: The minority parties aren't too pleased with them.

House Republicans and Senate Democrats (and Senate Republicans, too) filed their redistricting bills Tuesday evening.

The House plan moves three districts held by Democrats into Northern Virginia, thus displacing delegates from Virginia Beach, Southwest Virginia and Southside, where they drew the House Minority Leader, Del. Ward Armstrong, out of his Henry County district.

The Senate Democrats lumped four incumbent Republicans into two districts.

Senate Minority Leader Sen. Tommy Norment, R-Williamsburg, called the Democratic plan "an outrageously partisan redistricting plan that will go down as one of the most notorious examples of gerrymandering in history."

On the House side, Armstrong said the Republican plan shows the majority didn't listen to voters.

"In this process, one thing has stood out: Voters from across our commonwealth have consistently said they oppose splitting up towns, neighborhoods and precincts, and this plan does all three," Armstrong said.

House Speaker Bill Howell, R-Stafford County, said he thinks the House Republican map is fair and meets constitutional requirements.

He also said it was inevitable that Stafford would be split--this time, parts of Stafford will be part of a new district, the 2nd, which Republicans would move from Southwest Virginia to Stafford and Prince William.

"As far as Stafford goes, I'm delighted that they're going to have another representative. I think that's good for the county," Howell said. "It's such a fast-growing county, it's bound to happen, not going to be the last new one we get, I suspect."

On the Senate side, Sen. Richard Stuart, R-Stafford, said he thinks the Democratic proposal dices up too many localities, including lopping off a portion of Stafford and putting it into Ryan McDougle's 4th District.

"I am somewhat disappointed that the Democrats have taken an opportunity to draw compact and contiguous districts with communities of common interest, and dissected those same communities of common interest in a manner which I've never seen the likes of before," Stuart said yesterday.

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The plans and maps are posted online at http://redistricting.dls.virginia.gov, and citizens can leave comments on the proposed plans there.

The maps can be difficult to read. To find them, click "redistricting plans," which should take you to a "plan list." To view the House Republicans' proposal for new House districts, click on HB 5001 C. Jones. From there, you'll see a list of documents, but a button for "View in Map" should be on the right-hand side. Click that, and you should get a map with the proposed new districts outlined in green. You can add layers like current districts (which will be outlined in blue) and county boundaries, and then zoom in to find your district.

The Senate map works in a similar fashion: To see the Senate Democrats' proposal, you'd click SB# J Howell in the plan list. Once you get to that map, you can also add in a layer to see the Senate Republicans' counter-proposal, from Sen. Watkins. The Democrats' districts are in green, Republicans' are blue, and current districts are orange.

For an analysis of the political leanings of the new districts, look not to the state site but to the Virginia Public Access Project (vpap.org).

Public hearing scheduled

Legislators plan to hold public hearings on their district plans between Thursday and Monday (a schedule is here: http://redistricting.dls.virginia.gov/2010/Data/News%20Releases/Hearings_Sched_Mar_Apr _2011.pdf).