Redistricting reform


Hampton Roads

January 25, 2010

With redistricting just around the corner on the political calendar, a bipartisan group of lawmakers Monday urged passage of a Senate bill that would create a 7-member commission to draw district boundaries across Virginia in 2011 and every 10 years after.

Maps drawn by the commission would be submitted to the General Assembly as bills for consideration.

Sen. Jill Vogel, R-Fauquier, is carrying the bill that was the subject of today's news conference; it is one of several bills on the subject filed in the 2010 General Assembly session.

Del. Ken Plum, D-Fairfax, said the current system does not create "more representation, it ends up with less." He publicly implored Gov. Bob McDonnell to back redistricting reform.

McDonnell spoke in support of the concept during the 2009 gubernatorial campaign. Here's language on the subject from a position paper he issued during the race:

Bipartisan Redistricting - Whether through legislation or a Blue Ribbon Governor’s panel, Bob McDonnell will ensure bipartisan citizen involvement in the state legislative and Congressional district redistricting process in 2010-2011. Legislative districts must be drawn in a way that maximizes voter participation and awareness and lines should reflect commonsense geographic boundaries and a strong community of interests. This bipartisan commission, comprised of Virginia citizens who have not held any elected office for at least 10 years, will select its own non-partisan chair and will provide the citizens with access to the process through public meetings, proposed maps online, and a website that will allow public comment and interaction in this important process.

Earlier today, we checked in with McDonnell's staff to see what he thinks of Vogel's bill. We'll update this post when they respond.

UPDATE: Here's a statement McDonnell press secretary Stacey Johnson e-mailed this afternoon:

"The governor is hopeful that the House and Senate are able to work together to find common ground on this issue. He strongly believes that we need to institute a vehicle going forward that ensures more public input and provides more information to citizens on the redistricting process."

UPDATE 2: We caught up with McDonnell later Monday and here's what he had to say on the subject:

"I said during the course of the campaign that the concept of having more citizen input and making sure that citizens have a chance to look at the map and give input before lines are drawn is one that I support," McDonnell said during a brief interview. "Now what shape that takes place is going to be up to the legislature how exactly to do that. So I've communicated with people in both houses already my support for concept . . . and I hope to see some results this session."

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