Virginia Redistricting Watch
Background and procedural information
HJR 698 is a constitutional amendment that would create an independent redistricting commission. It was introduced on 1/12/05 and has been referred to the committee on privileges and elections.

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

No. While the legislation fixes the number of senators and representatives, it only requires that they be elected from the “several” districts. However, current Virginia code requires single-member districts.

Does the proposed legislation provide for Voting Rights Act compliance (e.g. can the commission use voter history information)?
Yes. Party registration data and voting history data must be excluded from the initial phase of the mapping process but may be used to test maps for compliance the Voting Rights Act.

Under the proposed legislation, how is the commission formed?
The commission would consist of 5 members. The Supreme Court is required to create a pool of 25 candidates: 10 each from the two largest parties and 5 who represent no political party. From this pool, the 4 legislative leaders each get one appointment. Those four then elect the fifth member, who must be an independent and serves as the chair. No more than two members can be from the same political party.

Under the proposed legislation, are competitive districts favored?
Yes. To the extent practicable, competitive districts are favored as long as doing so does not create significant detriment to the other goals of compactness and contiguity.

Under the proposed legislation, can members of the public submit plans?
Possibly. There is neither an express prohibition nor allowance.

Does the proposed legislation allow for mid-decade redistricting?
No. The commission is prohibited from meeting once its plan has been adopted unless there is a court order.
June 18th 2006
Where politicians dare to tread
San Francisco Chronicle

The San Francisco Chronicle editorial board endorses the British Columbia Citizens Assembly approach to electoral reform, specifically noting the potential for proportional representation in California.

March 21st 2006
Real redistricting reform is proportional representation
San Francisco Examiner

Rob Dickinson of Californians for Electoral Reform writes a commentary on how recent proposals to make the redistricting process fairer miss the mark. For real progress in how we elect our representatives, we need to turn to proportional voting.

March 1st 2006
Tanner redistricting bill gains Senate sponsor
The Hill

Senator Tim Johnson introduced a companion bill to Rep. John Tanner's federal redistricting reform legislation. The identical bills, supported by FairVote, would set up state commissions to handle redistricting only once a decade.

December 20th 2005
Overhaul of state electoral system sought

Following on the heels of the defeat of redistricting reform in California, Republican and Democratic legislators plan on introducing legislation to create a citizens assembly for election reform and discuss proportional voting for the state.

December 11th 2005
A Dramatic Idea for Election Reform
New York Times

A Times reader highlights the fundamental weakness of any single-member district-based system: gerrymandering is unavoidable.

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