Losing population, West Virginia braces for less representation in Congress

West Virginia

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. (WDVM) — After the census every 10 years, political maps are redrawn. In West Virginia, things could get interesting now that the 2020 census is done.

West Virginia is one of the few states with fewer people now than ten years ago. That sets up a creative game of political musical chairs.

With the population decline in the Mountain State, the legislature decides who can run where in the next election.

Danny Lutz, a political analyst, said, “We have to have all of our redistricting done in time for the filing period which begins in January of 2022.”

To accommodate population shifts, West Virginia will lose one of its three congressional seats and boundaries will have to be redrawn for the State Senate and delegate districts in the legislature. That, says Lutz, can be contentious, since some lawmakers will be protective of their “safe” political turf.

“What we saw in the legislative session this year: 70 House members of the GOP and 23 senators fighting like kindergarten kids,” Lutz said.

While West Virginia has a shrinking population, the growth is concentrated in the eastern panhandle which shoulders the booming suburbs of Washington, D.C. According to Lutz, that means more voters concentrated in compacted districts.

“In short,” says Lutz “everything here gets smaller and shifts eastward.”

The new census data shows that Illinois and Mississippi are the only other states to have a decreased population over the past decade.

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