CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) — In just a few short weeks, people in Virginia and across the country will begin receiving invitations to complete the forms for the 2020 Census. Once those forms are in and people are counted, election officials in Virginia will have a problem few other states will have to deal with.
Nationally, state and locally elected officials across the country will use that Census data for redistricting, but because Virginia has off-year elections, it means officials here have much less time to crunch those numbers. The invite to complete the Census is merely weeks away and it has implications only seen once a decade.
“We do redistricting once every 10 years. The census is done in even years, you know, 2000, 2010, 2020,” Albemarle County Voter Registrar Jake Washburne said.
After the deadline closes and all forms are in, the real work begins.
“Then, redistricting has to be done as to the United States House of Representatives district lines, State Senate and State House of Delegate district lines and locally magisterial district lines,” Washburne said.
Washburne says the goal of redistricting is to give every voter a voice, to ensure that the respective districts have an equal number of people and equal population.
While elected officials across the country should have access to census data early next year, those in Virginia will be forced to analyze that data very quickly.
“We’re one of the few states that has the off-off year election which means we have them in the odd numbered years, not just in the even number years so it’s going to be a bit of a fire drill,” Albemarle County Board of Supervisor Donna Price said.
Price said that even with the time crunch, she would not change a thing. “It allows us to focus some of our attention on those off years on races that might otherwise lose some of the attention that they need."
Redistricting can change a person’s district and thus the place where they cast their vote.