The government integrity panel created by Gov. Terry McAuliffe adopted recommendations on Monday for an overhaul of Virginia’s redistricting process, embracing an approach the Republican-dominated House of Delegates has consistently rejected. The panel wants to amend the Virginia Constitution to create an independent commission to redraw lawmakers’ districts, and pass a law prohibiting that commission from considering election results when setting district boundaries. Both suggestions would have to be approved by the legislature — an especially unlikely outcome in the House, where similar bills have died in committee. One proposal also would have to be approved by voters.
The panel also recommended that McAuliffe (D) and the General Assembly work together to redraw congressional districts, in response to a recent ruling declaring that the commonwealth’s congressional map is unconstitutional.
Former lieutenant governor Bill Bolling (R), who co-chairs the panel with former congressman Rich Boucher (D), said the biggest obstacle to approving the changes will be garnering support among lawmakers who face little threat of a primary opponent under the current configuration.
“For the members of the legislature, this is a question of sheer political power,” Bolling said. “The challenge is going to be trying to get the legislators to be willing to put the people’s interest ahead of political interest or their own political interest.”