The three federal judges overseeing Virginia’s court-ordered redistricting plan wasted no time taking on their role as congressional district mapmakers. When the General Assembly failed to submit new district map by the Sept. 1 deadline, the panel quickly assumed the task. One of its first steps was to find an independent special master, a legal expert in mapping and demographics to draw up new district boundaries. A special master is commonly appointed in complicated matters in which certain legal expertise is needed. The court also is showing some transparency and openness by allowing citizen groups or individuals to submit proposals.
The political shenanigans Democrats pulled to shut down the special session essentially may have sped up the process of redistricting. After all, any plan the Republican-controlled legislature came up with would most likely have been vetoed by Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe anyway and then handed over to the federal judges anyway.
The current district map was found to be unconstitutional by federal judges, who say the 3rd Congressional District was racially gerrymandered by placing too many black voters in that district, which dilutes the black representation in other districts.
Having a non-partisan expert or panel rather than legislators draw up new district lines would be a healthy change from the partisan lines drawn when either the Republicans or Democrats are doing it.