The map above shows the 2010 House of Delegate districts. For the next election, the WV legislature will redraw the lines to create 100 single-member districts (there are currently 33 multi-member districts in the western part of the state that will be split to single-member districts). The WV legislature will begin the process of redrawing boundaries for each state Senate and Delegate district in October. State legislators are required to live in their districts for 1 year prior to election, so the new maps need to be finalized by early November.
|Information and Resources about Redistricting
|Current WV Legislature District Maps (created using 2010 census data)
|How Redistricting Works in West Virginia
|Single-Member Districts vs Multi-Member Districts
According to the 2020 Census results, West Virginia is a lot less crowded than it was a decade ago. With an overall drop of over 59,000 residents since 2010 (a 3.3% decrease), the state’s population decline stands out even from the other two states to lose population over the past decade, Mississippi (down 0.2%) and Illinois (down 0.1%). However, the story is a bit different in the Eastern Panhandle. Morgan County counted 478 fewer residents in 2020 than it did in 2010, a slight dip in population. Jefferson County added 4,203 residents to grow to a population of 57,701 (a 7.9% increase) and Berkeley County added 17,907 to grow to 122,076 residents (a 17.2% increase). Frederick County, Virginia, Berkeley County’s neighbor to the south along the Interstate 81 corridor, saw similar growth (16.7%) with the addition of over 13,000 residents. Jefferson County’s neighbor to the east, Loudoun County, dramatically outpaced the rest of Virginia with a 34.8% growth rate over the decade, expanding to over 420,000 residents.
The Observer asked John Doyle, who currently serves as one of Jefferson County’s representatives in the WV House of Delegates, to give some context for how these numbers might play out in the redrawing of the state’s legislative districts for next year’s elections, particularly in the House of Delegates. Doyle noted that since the 2010 Census, Berkeley, Jefferson & Morgan Counties have been represented by 10 delegates (with one district being split between Morgan and Hampshire Counties). “I think we’ll add another 2 delegate districts [with a similar overlap of one of the districts into Hampshire County].” Looking at the 2020 numbers, Doyle pointed out that “with 100 single member districts to represent the entire state, that works out to roughly 17,930 residents on average per district. A district can vary up or down by 5 percent. Since we’re seeing growth here, I would expect the redistricting committee to slightly under-populate the districts in the Eastern Panhandle to start, so that in a couple of years they grow to be average [population] size.”
Doyle remarked that the population growth in Jefferson was a bit lower than what had been expected — the slowest in absolute numbers since the 1970s and as a percentage increase since the 1950s. “If you look at Berkeley County, the growth seems to be driven by commerce and jobs along I-81, whereas in Jefferson County the growth seems to come in periodic waves over the Blue Ridge.”
The number of new housing permits issued since 2020 (see chart below) does suggest that Jefferson County is at the start of another wave of growth, closer to the trend that Berkeley County has experienced in recent years.By Staff Contributor