MEDIA ADVISORY: U.Va. Demographers Shed Light on Virginia's Redistricting Process

December 7, 2010 — With midterm elections now over and decennial census data to be delivered to the states at the end of the month, national media and politicians are focusing on the constitutionally mandated process of redistricting and its political consequences.
 
Demographers from the University of Virginia's Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service released today a brief overview of how redistricting works in Virginia and the motivations and technology behind redrawing district boundaries.
 
The article, by Dustin Cable and Colleen Wolfe, is the latest edition of Stat Chat, a regular digest discussing demographic issues of current interest published by the Demographics & Workforce Group at the Cooper Center.
 
Every 10 years, state and national legislative districts must be reapportioned and redrawn after the census to account for population and demographic shifts.
 
"Redistricting is an essential process where demographics, politics and analysis meet to redraw the very shape of our democracy," Wolfe said. "The timetable for completing the process in Virginia is particularly tight this year with the 2011 state elections."
 
Districts can be redrawn to protect incumbents, punish political opponents or otherwise create a long-term advantage at the ballot box; and new technologies make so-called 'gerrymandering' easier and more precise than ever, the authors said.
 
"Just over the past few years, both parties have been perfecting political micro-targeting and developing the ability to predict individual voting behavior based on everything from demographic information, aggregate voting histories, or even an individual's magazine subscriptions or grocery store purchases," Cable said.
 
The article highlights how Virginia's state and federal districts have changed over time and the effects of gerrymandering on state elections.
 
REPORTERS/EDITORS: Dustin Cable can be contacted at 434-982-3199 or dac2t@virginia.edu. For the complete publication and graphics for re-publication, visit here.

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Rebecca P. Arrington

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