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Every 10 years, the United States conducts a national Census. Following the Census, all states are required to redraw their electoral district boundaries to make sure the “one person/one vote” requirement is met. That process is called redistricting.
Gerrymandering is the manipulation of the redistricting process to guarantee certain outcomes from elections by the partisan legislators in charge of the process. In the past, both Republican and Democratic politicians have used this authority to draw maps that ensure their own re-election by choosing which voters they want in their districts.
In 2019 and 2020, the Virginia General Assembly passed a constitutional amendment proposal that will create Virginia’s first redistricting commission, it was approved by the voters on Election Day in November of 2020.
Now, districts will be drawn by a commission composed of eight citizens and eight legislators, with one of the citizens serving as chair. The citizen selection process will be politically balanced and the final determination of who serves will be made by a panel of five retired circuit court judges.
Acknowledging the importance of the 2020 Census, the Virginia Civic Engagement Table (VCET) created the Virginia Counts Coalition. This coalition was created to include VCET partner organizations, national partners, members of the Virginia Complete Count Commission, non-VCET partner organizations and representatives of local complete count committees. The goal of the coalition is to ensure that Virginians are represented fairly in the re-distrticting process and communities who have historically been underrepresented have a seat at the table.