U.Va. Demographer to Advise Virginia Redistricting Commission

March 4, 2011 — Research on population change and racial and ethnic population patterns in Virginia has earned one University of Virginia researcher a new role.

Dustin Cable, a policy associate in the Demographics & Workforce group of U.Va.'s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, will serve as an adviser to Virginia's Independent Bipartisan Redistricting Commission, appointed by Gov. Robert F. McDonnell in January.

The commission will create and review proposed redistricting plans for the Virginia House of Delegates, Senate of Virginia and Congressional districts. The commission will then recommend plans that meet the required criteria to the General Assembly.

"As Virginia redraws its legislative districts later this year, the process should take place in a manner that is fair and open," McDonnell said. "Legislative districts should be drawn in a way that reflects common-sense geographic boundaries and communities of interests as required by law. This Bipartisan Redistricting Commission will contribute to public involvement, openness, and fairness in the redistricting process."

Cable and research assistant Coleen Wolfe published "Redistricting Virginia" in December as part of the Cooper Center's "Stat Chat" series to highlight the redistricting process and its importance to competitive elections – those most likely to attract voter participation. This publication led to an invitation for Cable to present information to the commission on population changes in Virginia since the last census in 2000.

"The ways in which Virginia's population has grown and changed in the last 10 years needs to inform redistricting," Cable said. "While demographic data is important in the process, it won't, by itself, draw the new districts. That is why the independent bipartisan commission is important."

In his presentation to the commission, Cable emphasized Virginia's increasing population, regional diversity and the resulting growth in the number of constituents each member of Congress and of the General Assembly must represent.

"Beyond population growth, Virginia is becoming increasingly diverse, with stark regional differences," said Qian Cai, director of the Demographics & Workforce Group. "Regional differences will result in dramatic changes in the shape and number of districts in each region of the commonwealth. We are pleased that Dustin, with his expertise in demographic analysis and the requirements of the redistricting process, will be part of this crucial process."

Cable will work with other commission advisers to develop draft maps of boundaries for Congressional and General Assembly districts. The commission is expected to develop its first set of recommendations by the beginning of April.

Cable's paper and presentation to the Commission are available online. For information, contact the Virginia Independent Bipartisan Redistricting Commission, either Steven Jones, staff, 804-201-5174 or smjones2@gmail.com; or Bob Holsworth, chairman, 804-839-8782 or bobholsworth@aol.com.

Media Contact

Meredith Gunter

Outreach Director Demographics Research Group, Weldon Cooper Center