(01/02/2010)
By Bob Weaver

Census time comes every ten years.

Coming with it is re-districting that affects seats in Washington and West Virginia related to population shifts.

West Virginia will not lose any representatives to Washington, but county shifts in population could affect congressional seats.

It could also affect seats in the state Legislature.

The Charleston Daily Mail says in 2001, legislators actually bolstered the 2nd District for Republican Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito by moving Gilmer County into the 1st District and Nicholas County into the 3rd District.

Both of those counties lean Democratic.

Redistricting in 2011 may not be as kind to Republicans if the Legislature wants to strengthen Democratic hopes in the 2nd District by way of gerrymandering, reported the paper.

Robert Rupp, a political scientist at West Virginia Wesleyan College, said lawmakers may remove a Republican county from the 2nd District and add a few counties overall to the 3rd District, which is declining in population.

Legislative gerrymandering in 2000 created some interesting state senate districts.

For example, the 2nd Senatorial District which includes Calhoun, stretches like a snake from the state's northern panhandle (Marshall County) to the southern tip of Calhoun in central West Virginia.

In this case, there is little notion of 2nd District senators representing the needs of a geographic area, the gerrymandering forever favoring the more populated counties.

Gerrymandering has been a long-time political method to maintain control.


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