A group of Virginia residents sued state elections officials Monday over 11 legislative districts — including some in Northern Virginia — charging that they violated the state Constitution by enforcing election maps that too easily protect incumbents. The plaintiffs argue that during the last round of redistricting, in 2011, the General Assembly drew the districts to give incumbents the best chance at holding on to their seats at the expense of geographical compactness, which the Constitution requires. If successful, the suit, which is the third recent court challenge to the state’s elections maps, could scrap the maps and send vulnerable lawmakers scrambling to compete in newly drawn districts. The House and Senate districts in question are spread all over Virginia and include parts of Prince William County, Manassas, Manassas Park, Fairfax County and Arlington County.
Attorney Wyatt Durrette, a former Republican delegate, filed the suit in Richmond Circuit Court for OneVirginia2021, a nonprofit group pushing for nonpartisan redistricting.
“Our goal is to influence the courts to require the legislature to honor the Constitution when it draws political districts and not subjugate the Constitution to blatant political gerrymandering,” he told reporters outside the courthouse.
The lawsuit targets five House districts and six Senate districts. In the overwhelmingly Republican House, bills intended to reduce the influence of politics on redistricting have quietly disappeared in subcommittees without going to a floor vote.