New Senate district that would’ve served Western Tidewater dead issue

Published 10:58 am Thursday, February 7, 2013

RICHMOND—A new redistricting plan that would’ve created the first new majority-minority district in the Virginia Senate since 1991 has died.

The proposed District 25, approved by the Senate, would’ve stretched from Danville to Franklin and included Southampton and Isle of Wight counties and a portion of Franklin. The proposed district has a black population of 56.2 percent.

The provisions of the Voting Rights Act require the creation of majority-minority districts where a minority group is sufficiently large and compact, is politically cohesive, and if there is a demonstrated history of racially polarized voting in the region.

In 1991, these standards led Virginia to increase the number of such districts in the Senate from two to five. Although the House of Delegates had increased the number of majority-minority districts in that body since the 1991 redistricting, the Senate had not.

Republican House Speaker William Howell ruled that such a sweeping change was not the intention of the original bill and therefore an invalid addition, according to a published report.