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.   
November 19th 2005
Redistricting reform: How best to tackle ultra-safe districts
Sacramento Bee

FairVote's Rob Richie argues in commentary running in several newspapers that redistricting reformers must challenge winner-take-all elections.

November 16th 2005
In Canada, regular folks are put to work on reforms
San Jose Mercury News

Steven Hill prescribes a citizens assembly as a solution for achieving consensus on redistricting reform in California.

November 15th 2005
Citizens Must Drive Electoral Reform
Roll Call

Heather Gerken of Harvard Law suggests a citizens assembly as one means to achieve redistricting reform and buy-in from voters.

November 13th 2005
Arnold had the right idea about redistricting
The Herald News

The Herald News cites Fairvote with commentary about the dangers of Gerrmandering and redistricting obstacles.

November 13th 2005
ARNOLD AGONIZES: How the election changed the governor -- and California
San Francisco Chronicle

Article discussing the recent failure of redistricting reform in California and the potential solution in letting the citizens decide through a Citizens Assembly on Election Reform.

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