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.   
October 23rd 2005
Who Should Redistrict?

The New York Times Magazine explains the dilemmas many states, including California, face as they attempt to create competitive and fair congressional districts. Dean Murphy cites FairVote's statistics.

October 15th 2005
Wamp fresh leadership for sagging Republicans
The Tennessean

According to FairVote's Ryan O'Donnell, the Republican party should seize the opportunity to embrace electoral reforms, and take the lead on ending gerrymandering.

October 5th 2005
Mapping the way to a better system
Boston Herald

Why Massachusetts should turn a critical eye towards gerrymandering. This article mentions Fairvote.

October 2nd 2005
Several states may change redistricting process
L.A. Times

Discussion of redistricting practices in California, Massachusetts and Florida. Mentions Tanner's bill.

September 25th 2005
Local GOP breaks with governor to oppose redistricting
Auburn Journal

An article about the debate over a proposal that would give a panel of judges the responsibility of redistricting

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