Redistricting is the process to draw new electoral boundaries to ensure proportional representation as populations grow and shift over time. It is done to create election districts with roughly equal numbers of people, and the process takes place after every decennial Census that counts every person living in the United States.
Fairfax County’s redistricting effort will only draw new local election districts for the Board of Supervisors and School Board. The state's Virginia Redistricting Commission will redraw election districts for lawmakers in the Virginia General Assembly and U.S. Congress, however.
Redistricting is a legally required process to ensure proportional representation—that is the requirement that every citizen’s vote is weighed equally. It is more commonly known as the principle of "one person, one vote."
Proportional representation is required by the Equal Protection Clause of United States Constitution, the Virginia Constitution and state law.
The Virginia Constitution says that local election districts must be constituted “as to give, as nearly as is practicable, representation in proportion to the population of the district.”
NO. The Fairfax County Public Schools are responsible for drawing school boundaries, and Fairfax County’s redistricting effort is completely unrelated. Redistricting only redrew new local election districts for the Board of Supervisors and School Board.
NO. Fairfax County’s redistricting effort only redrew new electoral boundaries for the Board of Supervisors and School Board. The Supreme Court of Virginia is currently responsible for redrawing new electoral maps for members of the Virginia General Assembly and U.S. House of Representatives. This process is separate from the county’s redistricting effort.
By making sure districts have nearly the same number of people, it is the way to ensure you have equal representation on the Board of Supervisors and School Board. It also affects who you vote for and where you vote based on how the electoral boundaries are drawn. Once they are adopted, the new local election districts will be in place for the next 10 years until redistricting happens again.
The legal authority and responsibility for drawing local election districts rests with the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. The Board appointed a Redistricting Advisory Committee to recommend proposed new local election districts with input from the public. Both the committee and public drew proposed redistricting maps, resulting in 64 proposed plans (40 maps were submitted by the public). The Board of Supervisors held a public hearing on Nov. 9 to consider these plans, and the Board then adopted new local election districts at their Dec. 7 meeting. However, these adopted districts are subject to certification by the Virginia Attorney General in accordance with the Virginia Rights of Voters Act of 2021.
As adopted by the Board of Supervisors on Dec. 7, their redistricting plan maintains nine election districts. However, it shifts seven precincts into different districts, moving them in whole or in part:
- 626 - Saratoga (from Mount Vernon to Springfield)
- 703 -Fort Buffalo (from Providence to Mason)
- 717 - Woodburn (split between Providence and Mason)
- 730 - Penderbrook (from Providence to Springfield)
- 827 - Irving (from Springfield to Braddock)
- 840 - West Springfield (from Springfield to Lee)
- 933 - Compton (from Sully to Springfield)
View a map that shows the adopted districts, along with the seven precincts that were moved.
The Board's adopted districts are subject to certification by the Virginia Attorney General in accordance with the Virginia Rights of Voters Act of 2021.
By state law, Fairfax County's redistricting effort must be completed by the end of 2021. The Board of Supervisors adopted new local election districts at their Dec. 7 meeting. By state law, the districts must be adopted by ordinance, and they become effective immediately once adopted, subject to certification by the Virginia Attorney General in accordance with the Virginia Rights of Voters Act of 2021. Until they are certified, these new districts may not be implemented.
By state law, the county must use the 2020 Census population data as adjusted by the Virginia Division of Legislative Services. This state agency adjusts this datat to reallocate people incarcerated in federal, state and local correctional facilities in Fairfax County to their home jurisdiction. Based on adjusted 2020 Census numbers, the county’s population grew by 69,139 persons during the last decade to a total population of 1,150,856.
Governments must make “an honest and good faith effort” to construct districts as close to equal population as is practicable. But the law does not demand mathematical perfection. The courts have allowed deviations from strict population equalization in election districts if the deviations are attributable to factors the courts have deemed “legitimate” and “related to effectuating rational state policy.”
Under the Board of Supervisors’ legal and policy criteria for redistricting, the population deviation between the most and least populated districts must be less than 10%.
Federal courts will presume that a redistricting plan satisfies the equal population requirements if the difference between the most and least populated districts is less than 10%.
However, this does not guarantee that the courts will not overturn a plan if the population deviation is attributed to improper factors—even if the deviation is less than 10%.
No. The law doesn’t impose a maximum size on the districts, only that districts have roughly the same population so that county residents have proportional representation. Under the Board of Supervisors’ legal and policy criteria for redistricting, however, the population deviation between the most and least populated districts must be less than 10%. State law limits the number of local election districts though — Fairfax County may have as few as five districts or as many as 11. Currently, there are nine districts.
Of the 64 proposed electoral maps, 24 were submitted by the committee, and 40 were proposed by the public.
The committee’s redistricting plans included:
- 13 plans with nine electoral districts
- 10 plans with 10 electoral districts
- 1 plan with 11 electoral districts
The publicly submitted plans included:
- 19 plans with nine electoral districts
- 15 plans with 10 electoral districts
- 6 plans with 11 electoral districts
Yes, although renaming districts doesn't have to be done as part of the redistricting process. In the past, district names have been created or changed as part of the process. For example, the 1991 redistricting process resulted in name changes, including the renamed Braddock and Hunter Mill districts.
On Dec. 7, 2021, the Board of Supervisors reappointed the Redistricting Advisory Committee to recommend proposed new names for its adopted local election districts. The group will have until March 1 to come up with its recommendations with a focus on racial and social equity.
The currently existing district names will remain in place, however, until the board decides whether it will make any changes.