Three state workers who will help an expert recommend new congressional boundaries for Virginia have signed confidentiality oaths and must destroy their working papers when they’re through. The three employees of the Division of Legislative Services signed the pledges in accord with a court order naming them to assist the expert, Bernard Grofman of the University of California-Irvine. On Sept. 25 the three-judge panel that will redraw Virginia’s congressional boundaries named Grofman as a “special master” who will consult with the court on a remedy. The federal judges have given Grofman until Oct. 30 to recommend a solution — by picking one of 11 proposed remedies submitted to the court, modifying a version or devising a plan of his own.
The judges plan to issue a new map “at the earliest practicable opportunity after Nov. 17.”
At Grofman’s request, the court has named three officials at the Virginia Division of Legislative Services to give him technical assistance — Robert J. “Jack” Austin, the agency’s section manager for rules, education, elections and special projects; and Kent Stigall and Julie L. Smith, geographic information systems specialists in computer mapping and redistricting.
Under terms of the court’s order, the three signed confidentiality oaths. They are “barred from communicating by electronic mail” in connection with their assignment, but may confer by phone.