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Richmond City Council looking for public’s input on voter redistricting plan

As more people call the River City home, voting district lines need to change.
Published: Jan. 21, 2022 at 6:37 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - As more people call the River City home, voting district lines need to change.

According to new census data over the last 10 years, Richmond’s population grew by 11 percent, meaning more than 226,000 now live in the city.

The challenge city officials face is making sure each of the city’s nine voting districts is balanced.

Richmond City Council held its second of three information meetings on Friday to let the public know how they plan to redraw voting districts and alleviate the issue.

Redistricting experts say dividing the city’s population by nine would ideally mean each district has a population of just over 25,000 people.

City officials want each voting district to be within five percent of the number, but three voting districts are outside of that margin as of Friday.

According to census data, the second and sixth districts are overpopulated, and the third district is underpopulated.

“So, since district two is over and district three is under, well that might be an area when we do the live map drawing, and that we want to look at some exchanges of precincts,” Gerry Herbert, Richmond’s redistricting consultant, said.

The city hopes to make this process as transparent as possible and will host meetings next month to allow the public to give its two cents as district lines are being redrawn live.

“We’re going to have a map up on the screen that you can see, and we’re going to be able to move precincts around and see what the effect is of that,” Herbert said.

Herbert says Richmond is one of the first localities in the Commonwealth to redraw lines this way.

He says those redrawing meeting dates will be held on Feb. 9, 10 and 11.

During the process, the city is also trying to eliminate split precincts that may have formed during the recent congressional redistricting at the end of last year.

Election officials say, in the past, this has confused voters as they submit their ballot.

“Voters don’t know what split precincts are when they go to vote and see candidates on the ballot that aren’t familiar with. So, it will just eliminate a lot of voter confusion in that regard,” Keith Balmer, Richmond election registrar, said.

Balmer says once the change in redistricting is approved, a notice will be sent out through the mail to all Richmond voters.

Richmond City Council is expected to approve the new redistricting plan at its April 25 meeting.

Another informational meeting about the process will happen on Jan. 27 from 6-8 p.m.

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