Co-Chairs Shift Agenda to Give Map Makers Direction on Statewide Maps
In a surprising development, the co-chairs of the Virginia Redistricting Commission announced September 11 that they were changing their planned agenda for the commission’s September 13 meeting and to give the commission’s bi-partisan map makers more guidance to complete their task. The co-chairs said that the map makers have been told to present proposed maps for all 100 House of Delegate districts and the 40 Senate districts by the commission’s September 20 meeting.
The commission had just considered draft maps for about one-third of the state’s districts, those located in Northern Virginia, and had planned to review drafts for the eastern part of the state and Tidewater on September 13. But in a statement the co-chairs issued two days later, they said, “Some progress on these statewide maps can be made by following statutory criteria, and our current guidance, but the map drawers need more specifics in order to complete the task.”
“Given that our deadline is a little over four weeks away, the time for those details is now.” The statement said that the commission would be “considering and discussing the criteria and guidance that need further detail and will take votes on the specific direction and guidance to give the map drawers.”
The co-chairs said that at the commission’s September 15 meeting, it would be “reviewing the public comment we have received and how it will inform any additional directions for the map drawers. So many of you have submitted comment through email or written letter, at a public meeting or hearing, or through the Commission’s interactive mapping and comment tool on the website, and we encourage you to continue to do so.” At the last meeting, Co-Chair Greta Harris said that within a week, the commission’s newly hired communications and outreach consultants were expected to have reviewed and organized comments to date. So far, the map drawers have not considered public comments, awaiting direction from the commission about what arguments should be considered.
The co-chairs noted that because no new maps will be presented this week, they have added maps of the current districts to the commission’s new interactive tool so that the public can review existing maps and add comments. The co-chairs asked, “Where are districts, or parts of districts, that you like? Where are districts, or parts of districts, that you do not like? It is so helpful to hear not only what doesn’t work but what does.” The co-chairs said that comments submitted would be part of the discussion on September 15. After that, the co-chairs said, the map makers would present statewide maps on September 20, and the commission would spend “the next two weeks digging into those maps and building a single statewide map for the two sets of districts.”