Local Redistricting in Loudoun County
Project Update: October 2021
- Loudoun County has launched its Local Redistricting Hub, which provides access to interactive maps and geographic data important for public participation in the redistricting process.
- The Redistricting Hub will be updated on a rolling basis to include additional interactive maps, data, and training materials for the public.
- Redistricting is the process of redrawing the boundaries of districts that elect representatives who serve specific geographic areas. The local redistricting process determines which neighborhoods and communities are grouped together into a district for purposes of electing board members to the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors and School Board.
- By making sure districts have approximately the same number of people, redistricting can help to ensure residents have equal representation on the Board of Supervisors and School Board. It also affects for whom residents vote and where they vote, based on how the local electoral boundaries are drawn.
- In June 2021, the Board of Supervisors adopted guidelines for the local redistricting process, including keeping “communities of interest” intact to the extent possible within a single supervisorial district. Communities of interest can include neighborhoods or any geographically defined group of people living in an area who share similar social, cultural, and economic interests; for example, homeowners associations, school boundaries, or other issues that make a community unique.
- To identify specific “communities of interest” within the county, or to submit general comments about the redistricting process, residents are encouraged to use this comment form.
- County staff are currently developing possible local redistricting scenarios, which will be brought to the board for consideration at its October 19 meeting. During November, the public will have an opportunity to comment specifically on those staff-developed scenarios or to use them as a starting point to develop and submit their own plans for consideration. An online mapping tool, which will be available on the Hub, will open to the public on November 1 for use in this process. The Board of Supervisors is expected to adopt the final plan in May 2022.
How can the public participate in this process?
The public is encouraged to provide feedback to the process, particularly in identifying specific “communities of interest” within Loudoun County. These include neighborhoods or any geographically defined group of people living in an area who share similar social, cultural, and economic interests; for example, homeowners associations, school boundaries, or other issues that make a community unique. During redistricting, local governments are charged with keeping neighborhoods and communities of interest intact within a single supervisorial district.
Residents can use this online form to submit comments and feedback about the redistricting process or provide input about their communities.
The guidelines for the process, adopted by the Board of Supervisors at its June 21, 2021 meeting, are:
- All districts shall have equal representation: Districts should be drawn to provide representation in proportion to the population of the district. The "one person-one vote" approach is of paramount consideration. In the past, Loudoun County has used a deviation of plus or minus five percent from the mathematical average as an acceptable level of representation.
- The plan shall comply with the Voting Rights Act: According to the Voting Rights Act, districts should be drawn in such a way that assures that minority voters have an equal opportunity to participate in the political process and to elect representatives of their choice.
- All districts must be compact and contiguous: Each district should be a single geographic unit, not composed of separated parts.
- The census shall be the source of data: Loudoun County must use adjusted U.S. Census Bureau data supplied by the Virginia Division of Legislative Services.
- Preserve communities of interest: To the maximum extent possible, areas that have readily identifiable communities of interest should not be split. Residential sub-divisions or small villages are examples of communities of interest that should remain intact.
- Create districts with similar interest among communities: To the extent possible, create districts where the residents have similar issues and concerns as related to land use, development, traffic patterns, etc.
- Consider voter convenience and effective election administration: Each precinct must have a polling place within or immediately adjacent to it.
- Use geographical or physical features, especially arterial roadways, for district and precinct boundaries: It is essential that the district and precinct boundaries be easily identifiable. Such features as arterial roadways, stream beds, and riverbeds provide distinctive, identifiable boundaries.
- Consider all alternative plans presented by interested groups and individuals: Once announced, individual citizens & interest groups should have a 30-day window to submit their suggestions using interactive mapping technology designated by the county for electronic submissions. Individuals or interest groups must live, be an established nonprofit, or have a business located in Loudoun County.
- When possible, do not split incorporated towns: Loudoun County's incorporated towns should not be divided within the boundaries of any town. It should be possible to maintain all towns intact, except perhaps the Town of Leesburg due to its larger population.
Loudoun County has launched its Local Redistricting Hub, which provides access to interactive maps and geographic data important for public participation in the redistricting process.
The Redistricting Hub will be updated on a rolling basis to include additional interactive maps, data, and training materials for the public. During November 2021, the public will have an opportunity to comment specifically on scenarios developed by county staff or use them as a starting point to develop and submit their own plans for consideration. An online tool, which will be available on the Hub, will be open for the public to use in this process.
Questions and Answers
What is redistricting?
- Redistricting is the process of redrawing the boundaries of districts that elect representatives who serve specific geographic areas. This process occurs every 10 years following the United States decennial census. Loudoun County underwent its last local redistricting process in 2011, in which it maintained eight magisterial districts and a chair at-large.
- By making sure districts have approximately the same number of people, redistricting can help to ensure residents have equal representation on the Board of Supervisors and School Board. It also affects for whom residents vote and where they vote, based on how the electoral boundaries are drawn.
What is happening with redistricting at the state level? Is that a different process?
- The redistricting process that establishes the congressional and state legislative districts is a separate process from the local redistricting process. It is led by the Virginia Redistricting Commission, a constitutionally created body approved by the voters of Virginia in 2020.
- The commission will draw Virginia’s congressional and state legislative districts in 2021. It will develop plans for districts for the Senate and House of Delegates of the General Assembly, and will submit those plans to the General Assembly for review and adoption. Based on the requirements set out in the Constitution of Virginia and the Code of Virginia, the General Assembly is expected to act on the maps provided by the Virginia Redistricting Commission in late October or early November 2021.
- The exact time frame will be dependent on when census data is received by the Commonwealth. If the General Assembly does not adopt plans by the specific deadlines, the districts will be established by the Supreme Court of Virginia.
What is the time frame for local redistricting?
- The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors has begun the process of planning for the 2021 Local Redistricting.
- The process itself begins after federal census data is released and the Virginia Congressional and General Assembly District Maps have been established. According to Virginia Code, local election precincts may not be split across congressional or state legislative districts. Therefore, once the General Assembly completes its redistricting process, the county will likely need to adjust its election precincts accordingly.
- Now that census data has been released, county staff have begun to develop possible scenarios. These scenarios will be brought to the Board for consideration and will be available for the public to review and comment in the fall of 2021.
- The final plan is slated to be presented to the Board of Supervisors in May 2022, and, after review by the Attorney General of Virginia, the map of updated boundaries is expected to be completed by August 2022.
Will this impact the size of Loudoun’s Board of Supervisors?
- As a result of a 1990 referendum, Loudoun County’s governing body consists of a chair at-large and supervisors elected to represent single-member districts. Currently, the board has eight single-member districts plus a chair at-large, for a total of nine members.
- At its June 21, 2021 meeting, the board voted to maintain its current nine-member composition.