U.S. localities are required to redraw their magisterial districts—used to conduct elections and record land ownership—every ten years after the national census is taken. Albemarle County grew by 14% in the 2020 census, and its districts will have to be repartitioned based on the population’s updated distribution as areas to the north and west of Charlottesville have gained more residents than others.
“The Crozet population [in White Hall District], as well as Rio, have grown considerably,” said Ann Mallek, White Hall representative on the county Board of Supervisors. “Both districts will have to lose geography to rebalance the voters.” Albemarle County is divided into 6 magisterial districts and 30 voter precincts. Federal law requires rough “population equality” among magisterial districts, with a goal of allowing deviations between districts not to exceed +/-5%.
In addition, Virginia state law requires that voter precincts have no fewer than 100 and no more than 5,000 registered voters in each, so greater population density means more narrowly drawn districts. Recent changes in state law have added other layers of complexity to the rules, such as a provision that requires each precinct to be “wholly contained within a single congressional district, state Senate district, House of Delegates district, and local governing body or school board district.”
Four county voter precincts (Woodbrook, Stoney Point, Pantops, and Jack Jouett) are currently split between existing state Senate or House districts, and county staff will hold a public meeting in January to discuss these and other redistricting issues. The supervisors plan to hold work sessions in the spring and adopt a 2021 redistricting ordinance for Albemarle in May of 2022.