Thursday, March 31, 2011

Virginia redistricting fever

Cross-posted at the Washington Examiner....

Tuesday had everyone on the edge of their seats waiting for redistricting maps to go up on the official Virginia DLS site. Time for lift-off was supposed to be 3:30 but 4:00 came and went and still no maps, then 4:30 and still no maps. Finally, a little after 5:00, the maps went up and the site was immediately jammed with the crush of political junkies trying to read the newly-drawn lines. Can you say mega log-jam?

Fluvanna Supervisor Shaun Kenny, who also happens to be a blogger, realizing the state site was crashing, grabbed the State Senate and House maps and reposted them at the political Bearing Drift blog for those who could not access the official site, and put sent an alert out out on Facebook.

Apparently the political junkies who couldn't access the official site took note and swarmed over to Bearing Drift only to also crash that site. That was quickly taken care of and the next post went up with a link to the Virginian-Pilot's interactive redistricting maps along with interesting Bearing Drift observations about the two redistricting proposals.

Meanwhile, back at the official DLS site, long waits for maps to load prompted the suggestion to one blogger that she set a timer and return to the computer when it dinged. Ouch.

The maps were interesting, to say the least. The House map had green lines and the Senate map had blue lines. Big, fat lines. They looked like a magic marker had been used to outline the new districts, and there were some very interesting districts, prompting one blogger to quip, "I haven't seen abstract art like this since Picasso died."

Enter the "word map" ... House Bill 5001 with each House district spelled out in precincts. Nice.

The senate precincts were also listed for those who had difficulty reading the maps.

VPAP (Virginia Public Access Project) quickly assembled an in-depth listing of redistricting coverage with links to numerous sources.

David Sherfinski at the Washington Examiner pointed out that Northern Virginia looked poised to pick up three House seats and one Senate seat. Indeed, Prince William County resident Jim Riley unexpectedly found himself drawn into an open 2nd District House seat. Riley, who was considering running for the Board of Supervisors, suddenly found himself being wooed for the open House seat.

As the maps become familiar and everyone finds their districts, look to hear from new candidates and challengers as November beckons those with a willingness to serve.

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