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Chesterfield County prepares for upcoming redistricting process

Chesterfield County prepares for upcoming redistricting process

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Chesterfield Magisteral Districts.png

Chesterfield County's current makeup of its five magisterial districts: Bermuda, Clover Hill, Dale, Matoaca and Midlothian. The county is about to begin a redistricting process.

Chesterfield County is gearing up for redrawing its five magisterial districts in the coming months.

County Attorney Jeffrey Mincks brought the county’s Board of Supervisors up to date with the local redistricting process during a Wednesday afternoon work session.

After Chesterfield receives 2020 U.S. census data by Aug. 16, which will include in-depth demographic statistics, the county will begin the redistricting process among its five districts: Bermuda, Clover Hill, Dale, Matoaca and Midlothian.

The county is required by law to change the boundaries of its five districts once a decade, with the modifications based upon population size. Chesterfield also needs to establish voting precincts every decade.

Mincks said several requirements must be followed when reconfiguring magisterial districts, including that they roughly resemble either a circle or square; have equal populations between districts, with less than a 5% deviation between each; and have clear boundaries, such as streets and rivers.

Clover Hill is expected to see the least growth, followed by Midlothian, meaning both districts will need to gain some territory, Mincks said. The average district population size is 68,710 residents, according to Mincks’ presentation.

Mincks said equal population size “is what we’re always trying to get to. ... It’s virtually impossible to get there, but that’s certainly the goal.”

Mincks said the county is mindful of avoiding gerrymandering throughout the redistricting process.

In November, Virginia voters overwhelmingly voted in favor of an amendment to the Virginia Constitution that is meant to curb gerrymandering. They voted to shift map-drawing duties — for Virginia’s U.S. House of Representatives districts, as well as the districts for seats in the Virginia House of Delegates and the Virginia Senate — to a 16-member bipartisan commission of lawmakers and citizens. If the commission deadlocks, the duties will transfer to the conservative-leaning Virginia Supreme Court.

Through October, Chesterfield will examine district boundary changes, hold community meetings and set a date for a public hearing date. The final redistricting plan will be approved by the Board of Supervisors.

In November and December, the county will hold a public hearing and adopt the newly drawn five magisterial districts, which will be sent to the Virginia attorney general for certification. Adjustments may occur within voting precincts early next year, based upon state redistricting.

Next year’s primary elections in June will use the newly drawn districts, Mincks said. Twitter: @jessmnocera


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