Virginia is closer than ever to figuring out how to fix the process of drawing voting maps, but some Democrats are backing away from the bill that would do it.
House Democrats have serious concerns about the redistricting reform bill that passed their chamber, saying it doesn’t keep legislators far enough from drawing the districts they serve. “They say it’s independent but that’s like saying up is down and left is right,” said Del. Schuyler VanValkenburg, D-Henrico. “It takes redistricting into a smoke-filled room.” On a party-line vote, the House passed a proposal from Del. Mark Cole, R-Spotsylvania, that would create a 12-member commission, with four members picked each by the speaker of the House of Delegates, the Senate Committee on Rules and the governor. The appointments would be evenly split between Republicans and Democrats.
That commission would create a voting map based on several criteria, like making sure districts aren’t oddly drawn or cross boundaries like town limits. Once it’s done, the General Assembly would vote on it. The House of Delegates would only vote on the House map and the Senate would only vote on Senate districts.
For districts for federal positions, eight of the 12 commissioners have to approve it. In the state House and Senate, three of the four members appointed by each chamber have to approve it.