Lawsuit filed against Virginia Redistricting Commission; says changing prisoner count weakens rural, GOP districts

New River Valley News
Richard Saslaw, Travis Hackworth, Johnn Cosgrove

Virginia State Senate Majority Leader, Sen. Richard Saslaw, center, along with Sen. John Cosgrove, R-Chesapeake, left, talk with new Sen. Travis Hackworth, R-Tazewell, during the Senate reconvene session at the Science Museum of Virginia in Richmond, Va., Wednesday, April 7, 2021. Hackworth replaced Sen. Chafin who died earlier this year. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

(AP) — A Republican state senator is among a group of people suing the Virginia Redistricting Commission. The lawsuit is over plans by the commission to count prisoners at their last known address instead of the prisons where they’re incarcerated.

The lawsuit says the change will politically weaken Virginia’s rural and conservative areas after the state draws new congressional and legislative districts.

The legal challenge was filed Friday in Virginia’s state Supreme Court. Petitioners include state Sen. Travis Hackworth of western Virginia.

The lawsuit comes at a time when a small number of states have modified how they count prisoners.

Critics say that counting inmates at their prison addresses inflates the political influence of the area surrounding a prison.

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