Virginia Governor forms redistricting panel

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January 11, 2011

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By Kyle Maichle

RICHMOND, Virginia: Governor Bob McDonnell announced on January 9, 2011, that an independent commission would oversee the process of redrawing Virginia's congressional and legislative boundaries. [1]

The Governor issued an Executive Order creating the commission along with naming the 11 members that would oversee the process. The commission consists of judges, government officials, and former officeholders. Supporters of the bipartisan commission hope that the new panel will put pressure on the General Assembly to put aside political motivations when considering any redistricting plan. [1]

Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, and former Governor L. Douglas Wilder support the concept of a bipartisan commission. In a written statement, Governor McDonnell said: "as Virginia redraws its legislative districts later this year, the process should take place in a manner that is fair and open...This Bipartisan Redistricting Commission will contribute to public involvement, openness, and fairness in the redistricting process." [2]

However, the reaction was mixed from members of the split-controlled General Assembly. Republican House Speaker William J. Howell applauded the idea by saying: "we expect the independent commission will increase participation in the electoral process." [1] However, Democratic State Senator Donald McEachin thought the commission came "too little, too late." McEachin further argued that the commission would have "no impact on the legislative process whatever." [1]

The following persons were appointed to the Commission:

The commission will serve purely as an advisory group to the General Assembly. Maps and plans will be drawn up and submitted to the General Assembly, who then will use those products when drafting a redistricting bill to send to the governor for approval.

Virginia must also get its redistricting plan approved by the Department of Justice, based on the Voting Rights Act.

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