Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 24.2. Elections
Chapter 3. Election Districts, Precincts, and Polling Places
9/22/2021

§ 24.2-304.04. Standards and criteria for congressional and state legislative districts.

Every congressional and state legislative district shall be constituted so as to adhere to the following criteria:

1. Districts shall be so constituted as to give, as nearly as is practicable, representation in proportion to the population of the district. A deviation of no more than five percent shall be permitted for state legislative districts.

2. Districts shall be drawn in accordance with the requirements of the Constitution of the United States, including the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and the Constitution of Virginia; federal and state laws, including the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended; and relevant judicial decisions relating to racial and ethnic fairness.

3. No district shall be drawn that results in a denial or abridgement of the right of any citizen to vote on account of race or color or membership in a language minority group. No district shall be drawn that results in a denial or abridgement of the rights of any racial or language minority group to participate in the political process and to elect representatives of their choice. A violation of this subdivision is established if, on the basis of the totality of the circumstances, it is shown that districts were drawn in such a way that members of a racial or language minority group are dispersed into districts in which they constitute an ineffective minority of voters or are concentrated into districts where they constitute an excessive majority. The extent to which members of a racial or language minority group have been elected to office in the state or the political subdivision is one circumstance that may be considered. Nothing in this subdivision shall establish a right to have members of a racial or language minority group elected in numbers equal to their proportion in the population.

4. Districts shall be drawn to give racial and language minorities an equal opportunity to participate in the political process and shall not dilute or diminish their ability to elect candidates of choice either alone or in coalition with others.

5. Districts shall be drawn to preserve communities of interest. For purposes of this subdivision, a "community of interest" means a neighborhood or any geographically defined group of people living in an area who share similar social, cultural, and economic interests. A "community of interest" does not include a community based upon political affiliation or relationship with a political party, elected official, or candidate for office.

6. Districts shall be composed of contiguous territory, with no district contiguous only by connections by water running downstream or upriver, and political boundaries may be considered.

7. Districts shall be composed of compact territory and shall be drawn employing one or more standard numerical measures of individual and average district compactness, both statewide and district by district.

8. A map of districts shall not, when considered on a statewide basis, unduly favor or disfavor any political party.

9. The whole number of persons reported in the most recent federal decennial census by the United States Bureau of the Census shall be the basis for determining district populations, except that no person shall be deemed to have gained or lost a residence by reason of conviction and incarceration in a federal, state, or local correctional facility. Persons incarcerated in a federal, state, or local correctional facility shall be counted in the locality of their address at the time of incarceration, and the Division of Legislative Services shall adjust the census data pursuant to § 24.2-314 for this purpose.

2020, cc. 1229, 1265.

The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of this section may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.