Vermont Senate districts, 2002–12
Vermont's state Senate consists of 30 members elected from 13 single or multi-member districts provided for in the redistricting and reapportionment plan developed by the Vermont General Assembly following the 2000 U.S. Census. The plan applies to legislatures elected in 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, and 2010. A new plan will be developed in 2012 following the 2010 U.S. Census.
As of the 2000 census, the state as a whole had a population of 608,827. As there are a total of 30 Senators, there were 20,294 residents per senator.
Members per districtEdit
Senators in multi-member districts are elected at-large throughout the district. Districts range from one to six senators. Three districts elect one senator each, six districts elect two each, three elect three each, and one (Chittenden) elects six.
Criticism and controversyEdit
The differences in the size of the districts has been a source of some controversy. In 2002, during the debate over the current districting plan, some, particularly Republicans in the state House of Representatives argued that different size districts were not truly equal, and proposed instead that the state be divided into fifteen approximately equal sized two member districts. Others, especially Democrats countered that the plan would cause major disruption to the makeup of the Senate, and that its true purpose wasn't equality, and was instead designed, simply, to increase the number of Republicans in the Senate. The plan would have cost a number of senators their seats, which didn't make it popular with that chamber. Senate opposition, together with opposition from Democrats, meant the proposal was not enacted.
With its six members—and being the only state senate district in the nation to have more than three members, as well as the only one excluding other Vermont districts to have more than two members—the Chittenden district was the natural focus of the controversy. As a less drastic proposal, some advocated splitting that district into two three member districts; however, this effort was also unsuccessful.
Senate district lines are drawn with an eye toward adhering to the boundaries of the state's 14 counties, and the districts are named after the county or counties in which the bulk of the district is located. However, due to equal representation requirements of the federal and state constitutions, most districts do not have precisely the same boundaries as their respective counties, containing either one or more towns from neighboring counties or not containing one or more from their own county (or both). Washington and Windsor are the only districts that have the same bounds as their respective counties.