HB 836
Background and Procedural Information

On January 8, 2008 Virginia Democratic House Delegate Brian Moran introduced Virginia House Bill 836 (VA H.B. 836).  As of June 6, 2008 it was left in the Committee on Privileges and Elections.  This bill would create a five-member independent redistricting committee composed of retired judges who would be responsible for creating redistricting plans for the Virginia legislative and congressional districts.   

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.  VA H.B. 836 states, “All districts shall be drawn to comply with the Virginia and United States Constitutions, federal law, the federal Voting Rights Act as amended, and relevant case law.” The commission may not use data regarding election outcomes, voting history, voting trends or patterns, the residences of candidates for relevant offices, or the partisan affiliation of voters except to test for legal compliance.

Under the proposed legislation, how is the commission formed?

The Chief Justice of the Virginia Supreme Court nominates twenty-four Virginia state and federal judges who have never held a partisan office.  The Speaker of the House of Delegates, the Minority Leader of the House of Delegates, the Majority Leader of the Senate, the Minority Leader of the Senate each select one of the nominees to serve as commissioners.  These four commissioners then select one of the remaining twenty nominees to serve as the chairman and final member of the commission.  The Commission will submit a plan to the legislature.  The legislature will make the final decision although the commission may comment on the proposed amendments or changes to the final district maps.
Under the proposed legislation, are competitive districts favored?

Yes.  Competitive districts are considered one of the eight standards that the commission is instructed to use in creating the district maps.  However, competitive districts may not “be made artificially competitive in violation of other standards.”

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

No.  Members of the public may attend and give comments at a minimum of five public hearings.  There is also a twelve-member citizens advisory board whose members may give advice to the commission at the commission’s request.  The same four legislative leaders who appointed the first four commissioners each appoint three members to serve on the advisory board.    

Does the proposed legislation allow for mid-decade redistricting?

No.  The Commission is dissolved after it presents its maps in years ending in one.

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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