A Redistricting Mad Dash

Virginia will be racing the clock next spring to redraw legislative boundaries in time for the House of Delegates to hold November elections in the new districts. The Census likely won't provide new population data until April 1, more than a month later than usual. In addition to a possible late start, a new voter-approved redistricting commission must set aside time for public input.

Virginia's new redistricting timeline could take up to 81 days:

If the General Assembly cannot agree with the commission's recommendation, the whole process would start again with responsibility falling to the Supreme Court of Virginia. The state constitution provides no timetable for court action.

How much time will the state have to draw maps?

Last month, legislators briefed on the timeline were told that the "drop dead" date for new maps would be April 2, even if House primary elections were pushed back until late August. Local election officials need time to shift voters into new districts. The deadline could be pushed back until late April if lawmakers were to cut back on the 45-day early voting period for the August primaries.

What if the General Assembly misses the deadline? The legislature likely would seek a court order to hold elections next fall in the existing districts. It also raises the possibility of the House holding elections again in 2022 -- this time in the new districts.

Source: Division of Legislative Services and National Conference of State Legislatures
Nov. 24, 2020