Fairfax County supervisors on June 8 adopted a schedule for this year’s decennial redistricting, and on June 22 will appoint members to a committee that will oversee that process.
Unlike most redistricting years, when much of the preliminary legwork is done early in the year in order to redraw districts before the November elections, 2021’s schedule will be highly compressed, county officials said. There has been a delay in obtaining data from the U.S. Census Bureau, which conducted its population count during pandemic-marred 2020.
Under federal law, the U.S. Commerce Department by March 31 the year after the census must give states population and demographic information needed to redraw congressional, legislative and local-election districts, county officials said.
But in mid-March this year, Census Bureau officials said they would give all states a data summary by mid- to late August and tabulated data in a user-friendly system by Sept. 30.
Virginia Division of Legislative Services (DLS) officials have announced they will use the legacy-format data for state redistricting and will give Virginia localities the adjusted information for their redistricting initiatives. Fairfax County likely will receive its DLS data in late August, county officials said.
Board of Supervisors members have submitted names of nominees for the county’s 2021 Redistricting Advisory Committee and formally will approve the final list June 22. Nine supervisors will appoint one committee member to represent their magisterial districts, while Chairman Jeff McKay (D) will appoint three at-large representatives.
In addition, any supervisor may nominate people to represent the Federation of Citizens Associations; League of Women Voters; the African-American, Hispanic, Asian/Pacific islander and Arab-American communities; Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce; and Northern Virginia Labor Federation.
According to the schedule adopted June 8, the committee will begin meeting in August to prepare for data receipt, develop plans, undergo training on mapping software and receive briefings on legal principles, census data and the county’s One Fairfax policy.
In early September, the county’s Website portal will begin accepting proposed redistricting plans from the public. Supervisors are expected to advertise the proposed ordinances and plans Oct. 19 and hold a public hearing on them Nov. 9.
“This is a model for how you do redistricting,” McKay said at the June 8 meeting. “It’s always an exciting event every 10 years, and this year we will be on a constrained schedule.”
According to the schedule, which may be altered by events outside of supervisors’ control, the board on Dec. 7 will adopt an ordinance pertaining to redistricted county election districts.
The county attorney on Dec. 21 will submit the adopted plan to Virginia’s attorney general and ask for a certification of no objection. If the attorney general does not interpose an objection within 60 days, it will be deemed that a certification of no objection has been issued, county officials said.
Next spring, supervisors will hold a public hearing and adopt an ordinance to clean up precinct boundaries and eliminate split precincts. The first Board of Supervisors election using the new district boundaries will be held Nov. 7, 2023.