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McDonnell signs Virginia state redistricting plans

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May 2, 2011

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By Tyler Millhouse

RICHMOND, Virginia: On Friday, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell (R) signed a revised legislative redistricting plan, redrawing the state's 40 Senate and 100 House seats.[1]

The Governor's approval comes after contentious negotiations following his veto of the plan two weeks ago. At that time, McDonnell cited strong reservations about the political bent of the senate plan drafted by Democrats. McDonnell's censure was less intense for House Republicans, citing too many divided precincts.[2]

Following the veto, the House quickly passed a revised version of their chamber's maps, reuniting a handful of divided precincts.[3] In the State Senate, Democrats initially expressed strong opposition to changes, defending the fairness of the plan.[4] However, Democrats and Republicans ultimately reached a compromise and passed a modified plan 32-5. While several modifications to plans were made, it appears that the key compromise centered on Virginia Beach. The original plan had consolidated two Republican seats in the region into one distrct. The new plan has preserved two distinct districts.[5]

Governor McDonnell responded favorably to the revised plans. In a statement released prior to his signature, McDonnell stated that the plan "retains more geographic and municipal boundaries, contains districts that are somewhat more compact, and passed the Senate on a strong bipartisan vote." McDonnell also said that the plan is a "great improvement" over the previous draft.[6] The plan will now move to the Department of Justice for approval under the Voting Rights Act.

The Senate and House are holding state legislative elections in November. If the maps are approved by the DOJ, the current calendar would require candidates to declare their eligibility by June 15, 2011. The primary would be held on August 23, 2011.

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