Virginia Voters to Decide on Redistricting Reform

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Virginia Voters to Decide on Redistricting Reform

How Virginia's congressional and legislative districts are drawn may change if Virginia voters give their approval in November.

 

Under Question 1, power to draw congressional and legislative districts would move from legislators to an independent commission. Supporters of this change to the state's constitution argue that allowing politicians to draw these districts leads to gerrymandering, which deprives many voters of a meaningful choice. They contend that independent commissions will consider politics less than politicians will. Opponents, however, contend that by giving this power to a commission, it takes away the chance of voters to hold their elected officials accountable for how districts are drawn.

 

Congressional and legislative lines must be drawn after every census. In 2011, Virginia legislators were unable to agree on new districts, since Democrats and Republicans split control of legislative chambers. Under an independent commission, this situation would not occur again. Legislators in two successive sessions supported resolutions that would give voters the chance to vote on making this change to the state constitution. 

 

If voters approve the creation of an independent redistricting commission, it would be composed of legislators from the Democratic and Republican parties as well as private citizens. The commission would draw maps that could then be approved or rejected by the Virginia General Assembly. Legislators could not amend the maps. If the General Assembly rejects the maps, the commission would draw another set of maps. If the General Assembly votes down these maps, then the Virginia Supreme Court would draw the lines.

 

Currently 7 states have similar independent commissions that draw congressional district lines, while 10 states have independent commissions to compose legislative districts. 

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