Proposal Sent to House and Senate Privileges and Elections Committees

Richmond, VA -- The ACLU of Virginia has submitted to Virginia House and Senate leaders a draft plan showing that it is possible to draw two congressional districts with African-American majorities.  Virginia currently has one majority-minority congressional district.
The ACLU plan is different from the proposed House of Delegates’ plan, which leaves the current congressional scheme largely intact while increasing the number of minority voters in the majority African-American third district.   It is also different from the plan adopted by the Senate, which reduces the percentage of African-American voters in the third district to 42%, but creates a fourth district with a majority of African-American voters.
“We wanted lawmakers to look at congressional redistricting in an entirely new way that is racially fair and in compliance with the Voting Rights Act,” said ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Kent Willis.  “We’re not saying this is the best plan possible, only that it’s an improvement over the plans currently before legislators.  We welcome refinements and may even offer some ourselves as we continue to review our data.”
Under the ACLU plan, 52.92% of the population in the third district and 52.40 % in the fourth district identify themselves as African-American alone or in combination with other races (referred to as Any Part Black or AP Black).  The AP Black voting age populations in these districts are 50.02% and 50.24%, respectively.  The voting age populations for individuals who identify as single-race Black or African-American are 48.77% and 49.40%, respectively, although it is possible to increase both numbers to over 50% by splitting additional precincts.
When Hispanic and other minority voters are included, the third and fourth districts become strong coalition districts with minority voting age populations of 58.99% and 55.52%, respectively.
Maps and other data for the plan can be found online at www.acluva.org/tag/voting-rights.
In 1991, after legislators and their technical advisors announced that it was impossible to draw an African-American majority congressional district, the ACLU created what later became the African-American majority third district.  The ACLU proposal, after considerable amendments by lawmakers and Governor L. Douglas Wilder, was ultimately approved by the Department of Justice.
“We know that practically every legislator and scores of experts have been producing plans this year, but it was our recollection of how everyone overlooked the obvious in the 1991 redistricting process that sent us back to the drawing board in 2011,” added Willis.

Contact: Kent Willis, Executive Director, 804-644-8022

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