Republican leaders in the Virginia House of Delegates unveiled their own redistricting plan Tuesday, saying their proposed map is “race blind” and would fix racial gerrymandering without giving either party a significant political advantage. The General Assembly has six weeks left to pass a new House electoral map after a federal court ruled over the summer that lawmakers unconstitutionally prioritized race during the 2011 redistricting process by drawing too many African-American voters into majority-minority districts. The 2011 map passed with bipartisan support. It remains to be seen whether the GOP-controlled legislature will pass a map before the Oct. 30 deadline set by the court. But the introduction of the Republican plan puts another option on the table ahead of a House elections committee meeting next week. The bill’s patron is Del. Rob Bell, R-Albemarle.
House Democrats quickly rejected the proposal, calling it “empty rhetoric” from a GOP majority that they say is stalling for time.
Republicans are appealing the court decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, but the lower court has rejected their request to delay the Oct. 30 deadline as the appeal process plays out.
Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, has said he’s doubtful that the General Assembly will produce a map he can sign, and Attorney General Mark Herring has asked the court to prepare to draw its own map that can be enacted without passing the legislature.