SB 243
Background and Procedural Information

On January 9, 2008 Virginia Democratic Senator Janet Howell introduced Virginia Senate Bill 243 (VA S.B. 243).  As of June 11, 2008 the bill is currently stalled in a Virginia Senate Committee.  This bill would organize a seven-person commission that would be responsible for redistricting the Virginia General Assembly and congressional seats.   

Under the proposed legislation, are single-member districts a requirement or otherwise implied?

No.  Single-member districts are neither required nor implied.   

Does the proposed legislation provide for Voting Rights Act compliance (e.g. can the commission use voter history information)?

Yes.  The bill makes compliance with the Voting Rights Act one of the seven criteria that the commission must follow.  The Commission may not use voter history information.

Under the proposed legislation, how is the commission formed?

The President Pro Tem of the Senate, the House Speaker, the Senate Minority Leader, the House Minority Leader, the Chairpersons of the political parties receiving the most and second most votes in the most recent gubernatorial election will each appoint one member of the commission.  These six commissioners will then appoint, by a vote of at least four members, a final commissioner who will also serve as chairman.  The chairman may not have served in a political office for the last five years.  The General Assembly has ultimate authority to determine the district boundaries.  The commission merely presents plans and recommendations.
Under the proposed legislation, are competitive districts favored?

No.  Although the commission must use seven criteria in creating districts, forging competitive districts is not a priority.   

Under the proposed legislation, can members of the public submit plans?

No.  Members of the public may appear at a series of open forums where they can give comments and ask questions, but they cannot give submit maps or plans.   

Does the proposed legislation allow for mid-decade redistricting?

No.  There are no provisions that allow for mid-decade redistricting.   
May 14th 2008
Is the House of Representatives Too Small?

The U.S. House of Representatives has been at 435 members since 1911, when the country was a third of its current population. Research suggests that districts may now be getting too big for adequate representation.

November 15th 2006
Redistricting Reconsidered
Washington Post

Citing FairVote's Dubious Democracy 2006, an editorial notes that non-competition in U.S. House races has causes more fundamental than gerrymandering.

November 1st 2006
Lines of demarcation
Dallas-Fort Worth Star-Telegram

FairVote research cited in this commentary on lopsided redistricting, uncompetitive districts and the party primary battles they inspire.

October 30th 2006
Electile Dysfunction?
News Release Wire

Former FairVote President Matthew Cossolotto calls for a range of reforms, highlighting two problems of American democracy: "counting the votes" and "making votes count."

August 19th 2006
Eliminate districts
Contra Costa Times

CA resident calls for proportional voting in one statewide district as a congressional redistricting reform.

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