Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) is calling the General Assembly into special session on Aug. 30 to redraw legislative districts that a federal court deemed had been racially gerrymandered. A three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia ruled on June 26 that the lines for 11 House of Delegates districts had been drawn with the purpose of concentrating black voters. The 2-to-1 ruling was a victory for Democrats, who hope that new district boundaries will help them retake control of the House for the first time in nearly two decades. Last year’s elections wiped out a 2-to-1 GOP advantage in the 100-seat House, leaving Republicans with a narrow 51-to-49 majority.
The court ordered that new legislative boundaries be drawn by Oct. 30 for use in next year’s state elections.
“It is in the public interest for the General Assembly to finalize constitutional maps as soon as possible — Virginians deserve that clarity,” Northam wrote in the proclamation he signed Monday to call the legislature back to Richmond. “I am calling a special session so we can focus our collective attention on doing what’s right: working together to draw lines that represent Virginians fairly.”