Handbook and technical assistance available for community groupsRichmond, VA -- The Virginia State Conference NAACP and the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia today announced the availability of a handbook for promoting racial fairness in the redistricting process at the local level. The two groups are also able to provide assistance to individuals and local groups advocating for fair election plans for county boards of supervisors, city councils, and town councils.
The 28-page handbook, titled Fair Redistricting in Virginia: Understanding and Advocating for Racially Fair Redistricting in Virginia's Cities, Counties and Towns, includes an overview of local redistricting in Virginia over the last 30 years, a discussion of recent developments in the law, and information on how individuals and community groups can have an impact on the local redistricting process.
"Although state level redistricting has gotten most of the attention, the drawing of local election districts is equally significant," said ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Kent Willis. “The ACLU and the NAACP want to make sure that local election plans are racially fair and in compliance with the Voting Rights Act.”
Fair Redistricting in Virginia points out that as a result of litigation and redistricting under the Voting Rights Act, the number of African-Americans elected to public office in Virginia increased dramatically over the last 30 years-- from fewer than 50 in the late 1960’s (Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies) to more than 250 today (Virginia Leadership Institute).
“Fairness in local redistricting has benefitted enormously from the advancement and availability of technology in recent years,” said ACLU of Virginia Dunn Fellow Thomas Okuda Fitzpatrick. “Not too long ago, only government officials or their hired consultants had the access to the technology needed to draw election plans. Now almost anyone can go online, review, and even revise elections plans. The process has become far more democratic.”
Fair Redistricting in Virginia is available online at http://acluva.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/Fair-Redistricting-in-Virginia-2011.pdf or by contacting the ACLU at 804-644-8022 or acluva[at]acluva.org. Local groups that need assistance in reviewing plans may contact either the ACLU or the NAACP.
ACLU of Virginia Kent Willis, Executive Director, 804-644-8022 Thomas Okuda Fitzpatrick, Dunn Fellow, 804-644-8022
Virginia State Conference NAACP King Salim Khalfani, Executive Director, 804-321-5678