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.
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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