Redistricting Commission Overview
On November 3, 2020, Virginia voters passed a Constitutional Amendment establishing a Redistricting Commission of citizens and legislators, led by a citizen chair.
This Redistricting Commission will draw Virginia’s election district maps instead of the full General Assembly. This commission will be bipartisan. At least one study of redistricting outcomes in all 50 states has found that “both bipartisan political commissions and nonpartisan citizen commissions fare far better at preventing partisan gerrymandering than political redistricting in a state legislature.”
The Commission will consist of 16 members. Eight members will be legislators, with two selected by the leader of the House majority party caucus, two selected by the leader of the House minority party caucus, two selected by the leader of the Senate majority party caucus, and two selected by the leader of the Senate minority party caucus. Eight citizen members will be selected by retired circuit court judges from a pool submitted to the Department of Legislative Services and suggested by the same House/Senate caucus leaders who selected the legislator commission members. The commission members will elect a citizen chair at their first meeting on January 21, 2021. The chair will coordinate the work of the Commission.
Meetings & Transparency
- All meetings of the Commission will be open to the public.
- The Commission will hold at least three public hearings in different parts of Virginia to receive and consider comments from the public, before proposing or voting on any redistricting plans.
- All records and documents of the Commission or any individual or group advising on or doing work of the Commission delegated to it, including internal communications and communications from outside parties, will be considered public information.
Commission Approval of Redistricting Plans
- Plans for state Senate districts must be approved by at least at least 6 of the 8 legislative members of the Commission, including at least 3 of the 4 legislative members who are members of the state Senate, and at least 6 of the 8 citizen members.
- Plans for state House districts must be approved by at least 6 of the 8 legislative members, including at least 3 of the 4 members of the House of Delegates, and at least 6 of the 8 citizen members.
- Plans for districts for Virginia members of the U.S. House of Representatives must be approved by at least 6 of the 8 legislative members and 6 of the 8 citizen members of the Commission.
Due Dates for Proposed Plans
- No later than 45 days following the receipt of U.S. Census data, the Commission will submit to the General Assembly plans for election districts for state legislators. Such plans shall be submitted as a single proposed bill.
- No later than 60 days after receipt of U.S. Census data or July 1, whichever is later, the Commission will submit to the General Assembly plans for districts for Virginia members of the U.S. House of Representatives.
- If the Commission fails to submit a plan by the applicable deadline, the Commission will have 14 days thereafter to submit a plan to the General Assembly. If the Commission fails again to submit a plan by the deadline, the districts will be established by the Supreme Court of Virginia.
The General Assembly Vote on a Redistricting Bill
- Plans for district maps for the Senate and the House of Delegates will be voted on as a single bill, a legislation proposal.
- The vote will be taken in accordance with Article IV, Section 11 of the state Constitution, except that no amendments will be permitted, and the bill will not be subject to Article V, Section 6 of the state Constitution–meaning the General Assembly can vote to either accept and reject the bill; they cannot amend the plan.
- Within 15 days of receipt of a plan for districts, the General Assembly will vote on the bill. If the General Assembly fails to adopt the bill by this deadline, the Commission will submit a new plan to the General Assembly within 14 days. The General Assembly will vote on the new bill within 7 days of receipt. If the General Assembly fails to adopt the bill again, the districts will be established by the Supreme Court of Virginia who will direct two special masters to work together to produce a single map.