With the 2020 Census having been completed, Hanover County’s Board of Supervisors now must adjust its seven voting districts to ensure a roughly equal population in all.
Hanover’s 2020 population of 109,979 must be equally divided seven ways, meaning that each district should have a population of about 15,711. A variance of 2.5% from that target population is allowed.
The Ashland, Cold Harbor and South Anna voting districts must gain residents, and the Chickahominy District must lose residents.
Kevin Nelson, Director of the County’s Department of Information Technology, told the Board on September 8 that the Ashland voting district faces the most significant need for additional residents. The 2020 census shows that the Ashland District had 14,259 residents, which is 1,452 short of the population target. That’s a difference of 9.24%.
Cold Harbor is 1,066 residents short of the target population, or 6.79 percent. South Anna is 923 residents short of the ideal population, or 5.87%.
The district that has seen the most growth since 2010 is the Chickahominy District, which grew by 2,521 residents (16.05%).
The Beaverdam, Henry and Mechanicsville districts are within the correct population range given the 2.5% variance, but Nelson noted that in his experience the need for adjustments in other districts means that those districts might be affected as well.
Districts cannot be drawn arbitrarily. They are required to be contiguous and compact, follow physical boundaries such as roads or creeks and Census block boundaries. The Board is required to limit changes and preserve communities of interest, including considering racial and language minorities.
This redistricting, which takes place every 10 years, has nothing to do with school district boundaries.
Staff will finalize data and come up with proposals for new voting districts over the next month or so. Once alternatives have been developed, the Board plans to hold public meetings at each of the four high schools in November to seek input.
The Board is required to have adopted a redistricting plan by the end of the year. The Board’s final scheduled meeting of 2021 is on December 8, though the Board can always call a special meeting if desired.
The plan includes any changes necessary to precincts and polling places. Precincts are determined by registered voters, not residents, and polling places are expected to be within the precinct or within one mile of the precinct.