A House of Delegates subcommittee on Tuesday scrapped a series of bills aimed at nonpartisan redistricting. The five measures were defeated 4-3 in a bloc vote in a subcommittee of the House Privileges and Elections panel. Del. Mark J. Cole, R-Spotsylvania, who called for the vote, has said that action on redistricting is premature and that even independent commissions to draw districts require politicians to make appointments. Brian Cannon, executive director of OneVirginia2021, which is pushing for nonpartisan redistricting after the 2020 census, criticized the vote. “This morning was Groundhog Day all over again in the Virginia General Assembly when the members of the House Elections Subcommittee voted to kill five of the most significant redistricting reform bills in recent Virginia history,” he said in a statement.
Also Tuesday, a Virginia Senate panel narrowly advanced bills aimed at having voters — and candidates in local elections — identified by party affiliation, while also near unanimously advancing to the full Senate a bill that would prohibit parties from imposing loyalty oaths on primary participants when the elections are financed by the state.
Sponsored by Sen. J. Chapman “Chap” Petersen, D-Fairfax City, Senate Bill 686 would prohibit any party holding a presidential primary from requiring voters to sign a loyalty pledge when voting.
Current law allows parties to determine the requirements for participation, which led to the recent controversy over the Republican Party of Virginia’s bid to have voters sign a “statement of affiliation.” The move caused an uproar among a number of Republican presidential candidates, most notably Donald Trump.