The application window to become one of eight citizen members on the new Virginia Redistricting Commission has reached the halfway point and a demographic breakdown of applicants to date from the Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP) reveals some interesting trends.
VPAP’s visual breakdown of applicants’ demographic makeup features things like race, gender, age, party affiliation and more.
To start, as of Friday, only 88 Virginians have submitted applications for the commission since the month-long period first began on November 30th.
Amigo Wade, acting director of the Virginia Division of Legislative Services (DLS), said he wasn’t necessarily surprised by the number of applicants because this is a completely new process for the state and there aren’t many other things to use as a comparison.
“I think that [applications] are beginning to pick up, and I think part of the reason for that is because there’s a requirement to have three letters of reference, so that can take a bit more time,” Wade said in an interview with The Virginia Star.
Wade also said that DLS has received more applications over the weekend and even on Monday, but could not provide an updated number because the submissions were still being processed.
According to VPAP, most of the 88 applicants live in Northern Virginia (31). The second most are from the Hampton-roads (21) and the third most are from the greater Richmond region (19), which would make sense given those places are some of the most populated in the state.
There have been few applicants from less populated regions, such as south central, and surprisingly, there have been zero from the far Southwest part of the Commonwealth, according to VPAP.
When asked about the number of applicants from the Southwest, Wade maintained that the redistricting commission selection committee made sure its $140,000 advertising plan included informational outreach to all parts of the state.
“We are only at the halfway point and I think it might be too soon to make any conclusions about whether or not [the information] is getting out to everyone,” Wade said.
In terms of political party affiliation, 32 identified as Democrats, 31 said they had no party, 19 were Republican and six are described as other, according to VPAP.
When comparing party affiliation and applicant’s regions, it follows logic that there are more Democrats since Northern Virginia, the City of Richmond and some surrounding counties as well as parts of Hampton-roads are heavily blue, while the more rural areas of the state lean Republican.
A significant number of men have applied (71) compared to women (17) and the majority are white (67) opposed to other races. 13 applicants are black, four are other, three are multi-race and one is American Indian, VPAP found.
As of now, most applicants tend to skew toward being older and wealthy. 65 out of 88 are between the ages of 51 and 80 years old, and 49 have an annual salary of more than $100,000 a year, according to VPAP.
The redistricting commission was created after Virginians approved a constitutional amendment on Election Day, replacing the old method for redistricting where the General Assembly was in charge.
Citizens who are chosen to serve on the commission will be joined by eight current state lawmakers and will be tasked with redrawing Virginia’s legislative and congressional districts in time for the 2021 elections of governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and all 100 seats in the House of Delegates.
At the beginning of December, party leaders from the House and Senate selected the eight legislative commissioners. They are: Senators Steve Newman (R-Bedford), Ryan McDougle (R-Hanover), George Barker (D-Fairfax County), Mamie Locke (D-Hampton) and Delegates Delores McQuinn (D-Richmond City), Marcus Simon (D-Fairfax County), Les Adams (R-Pittsylvania County) and Margaret Ransone (R-Caroline County).
In order to be eligible to apply, there are several requirements and exemptions. Applicants must be residents of Virginia, registered to vote in the state for the last three years and have voted in two of the last three general elections.
Education level, work experience and socioeconomic status are not factored in the application process.
The citizens who cannot apply for the commission are any persons who has held or ran for political office, worked for a lawmaker, campaign or political entity, or has been a registered lobbyist within the last five years. Additionally, relatives of people who may be disqualified under those exemptions are not allowed to apply either.
The deadline for submitting an application is just under two weeks away on December 28th. The application form and all other information on the commission can be found on the DLS website.
Completed applications can be submitted by email to [email protected], faxed to (804) 698-1899, or mailed to the DLS, Attn: Selection Committee, 900 E. Main St., Richmond, VA 23219.
“If you’re on the fence about applying, I would say do it,” Wade said.
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