Prof. Justin Levitt's Guide to Drawing the Electoral Lines

West Virginia

State Summary

West Virginia’s congressional and state legislative lines are both drawn by the state legislature, as a regular statute, subject to gubernatorial veto.

In the 2010 cycle, the West Virginia legislature passed a congressional plan (SB 1008) and a state Senate plan (SB 1006) on Aug. 5, 2011; both were signed by the Governor on Aug. 18, 2011.  On Aug. 21, 2011, the state legislature passed a state House plan (HB 201), after an earlier bill was vetoed due to “technical errors”; HB 201 was signed on Sept. 2, 2011.

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Key Info for 2000 Cycle

Primary governing law

Key Info for 2010 Cycle

Website

Primary governing law

Key Info for 2020 Cycle

Primary governing law

Data

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Institution

West Virginia’s congressional and state legislative lines are both drawn by the state legislature, as a regular statute, subject to gubernatorial veto.

Timing

West Virginia law does not set a particular deadline for drawing congressional or state legislative lines.  The current legislative session began on Jan. 13, 2021, and is currently scheduled to end no later than Apr. 10, 2021.  Candidates must file for congressional and state legislative primary elections by Jan. 29, 2022.  [W.Va. Const. art. VI, §§ 18, 22W.Va. Code § 3-5-7(c)]

West Virginia law prohibits redrawing state legislative districts mid-decade, before the next Census; there is no similar provision pertaining to congressional lines. [W.Va. Const. art. VI, § 10]

Public input

The legislature has not announced any specific plans for public input this cycle just yet.

Criteria

Like all states, West Virginia must comply with constitutional equal population requirements.  State law further provides that state legislative districts be equal in population, as nearly as practicable, but the state courts have interpreted this provision to impose no mandate more strict than the presumptive 10% federal threshold.  [W.V. Const. art. VI, § 4W.V. Code § 1-2-1; [West Virginia ex rel. Cooper v. Tennant, 730 S.E.2d 368, 383-84, 394 (W. Va. 2012)]]

West Virginia must also, like all states, must abide by the Voting Rights Act and constitutional rules on race.

The West Virginia constitution further requires that congressional districts be formed of contiguous counties, and that they be compact; state Senate districts must be compact, contiguous, and bounded by county lines where doing so is not otherwise unlawful.  The state courts have given the legislature a great deal of flexibility to gauge compactness for itself and to cross county lines for state Senate districts in order to achieve equal population, and have emphasized that there is no similar county-line mandate for state Delegate districts.  When the legislature in 2011 last drew state legislative districts, it also declared that it would take into account communities of interest. State legislative districts may be multimember districts. [W.Va. Const. art. I, § 4; art. VI, § 4W.V. Code § 1-2-1; West Virginia ex rel. Cooper v. Tennant, 730 S.E.2d 368, 384-86, 394-95 (W. Va. 2012); Holloway v. Hechler, 817 F.Supp. 618 (S.D.W.Va. 1992)]

The state courts have also rejected the notion that partisan gerrymandering is impermissible under state law.  [West Virginia ex rel. Cooper v. Tennant, 730 S.E.2d 368, 390 (W. Va. 2012)]

2010 cycle

The West Virginia legislature passed a congressional plan (SB 1008) and a state Senate plan (SB 1006) on Aug. 5, 2011; both were signed by the Governor on Aug. 18, 2011.  On Aug. 21, 2011, the state legislature passed a state House plan (HB 201), after an earlier bill was vetoed due to “technical errors”; HB 201 was signed on Sept. 2, 2011.

The congressional plan was challenged in federal court, and the state legislative plans were challenged in state court; the maps were each upheld.  [Tennant v. Jefferson Cnty. Comm’n, 133 S. Ct. 3 (2012); West Virginia ex rel. Cooper v. Tennant, 730 S.E.2d 368 (W. Va. 2012)]

2000 cycle

The West Virginia legislature passed a congressional plan (HB 510) and a state legislative plan (HB 511), both signed on Oct. 4, 2001.

The state legislative plan was challenged in federal court, and upheld.  [Deem v. Manchin, 188 F. Supp. 2d 651 (N.D.W.Va. 2002), aff’d sub nom. Unger v. Manchin, 536 U.S. 935 (2002)]