Richmond, Virginia—Through an arduous, and at times heated process, The Virginia Redistricting Commission’s efforts to create fair legislative maps have failed. The commission missed the final deadline for drawing legislatives districts and now the Supreme Court of Virginia will have to pick up the slack. The Virginia Redistricting Commission canceled both of the meetings previously scheduled for this week, indicating that they may be on the same path for congressional maps.
From the very beginning, the bipartisan commission struggled to remain neutral, conducting much of what they were tasked with along partisan lines. Another point of contention for the commission was how to account for race in the fair districting process, after numerous organizations spoke out about keeping communities together and protecting the voting power of Black, Indigenous, and people of color. The last straw came when the commission was unable to agree on one set up maps to review with the public, which resulted in members of the public having to sift through 40 maps prior to providing their opinion.
“We have watched this fair districting process closely from the very beginning, hoping to see The Virginia Redistricting Commission prioritize people over politics,” Ashleigh Crocker, Communications Director at Progress Virginia said. “The Commission made this process much harder than necessary, with some members focusing on districts that protect incumbent politicians, keeping a partisan balance in the legislature, and avoiding dividing localities. But people in our community made it clear that they wanted to keep communities together and ensure people of color have equal choice of representation. What they didn’t want was a bunch of partisan bickering, but that’s exactly what they got. The Virginia Redistricting Commission failed to meet our expectations. Now all eyes are on the Supreme Court of Virginia, but given that the majority of the court is made up of Republican appointees, we’re not hopeful that they will keep the community’s interests in mind.”
Here’s How the Court Will Draw Virginia’s New Political Districts [VPM, Ben Paviour]
“The Virginia Redistricting Commission has missed a final deadline to draw new state legislative maps, kicking the process to the Virginia Supreme Court.”
“The court’s seven justices won’t draw the lines. Instead, they’ll hire two experts who will work together to come up with finished maps.”
William and Mary law professor Rebecca “Green says it’s not unusual for states to use their supreme court as a failsafe in redistricting battles. But she said most hire one expert, not two.”
“Green, who backed the amendment that created the commission, said the group’s decision to hire two map-makers was a big setback. She worries lawmakers’ decision to have the court use two experts could backfire as well.”