NOVEMBER 29, 2018
A bipartisan committee of former Virginia political leaders and election law experts has proposed a state constitutional amendment that would end gerrymandering by giving control over legislative district boundaries to an independent commission of Virginia voters. At a press conference in the Capitol, members of the Citizens Constitutional Amendment Drafting Committee detailed their proposal, which will be introduced in the 2019 General Assembly session. The session convenes Jan. 9th.
Under the terms of the proposed amendment, the 10-member citizens redistricting commission must include three Republicans, three Democrats and four independent voters.
“The legislature would play an important role, but the ultimate decisions for shaping district boundaries would be left to the commission of qualified citizen volunteers,” said Wyatt Durrette, the former Republican candidate for governor who chaired the citizens committee. “In an open and transparent process, the commission would follow strict criteria to ensure that districts would favor no party or candidate, follow city and county boundaries as much as possible, and not diminish the voting choice of minority communities.”
Any registered Virginia voter could apply to serve on the commission. From those applications, a panel of retired judges would nominate five Republicans, five Democrats and 12 independents. Then the Republican and Democratic leaders in the House of Delegates and Senate would reduce that to the final 10-member commission in a “strike” process similar to jury selection.
If the amendment passes the 2019 and 2020 legislative sessions and then is approved in a referendum of voters, the commission would draw new districts in 2021, as required after the 2020 Census. The redistricting would apply to all 100 seats in the House of Delegates, all 40 seats in the state Senate and Virginia’s 11 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.
OneVirginia2021 assembled the Citizens Constitutional Amendment Drafting Committee in August.
Details of the proposed amendment and the membership of the committee are available here.