Virginia House Democrats choose two lawmakers. A variety of people will fill the remaining 14 spots.
RICHMOND-Virginia’s new redistricting commission includes eight lawmakers, four from each political party. On Monday, Virginia House Democrats picked their representatives, naming Del. Delores McQuinn (D-Richmond) and Del. Marcus Simon (D-Fairfax) to the group.
“Commissioners will need to be committed to inclusion and dedicated to a fair redistricting process that protects the vote of every Virginian,” said Virginia Speaker of the House Eileen Filler-Corn. “These are the standards for individuals I am appointing as legislators today and my recommendations for citizen members to the commission moving forward.”
With 65% of the vote on Nov. 3, Virginia residents signed off on a constitutional amendment that changes how redistricting takes place. That means House Democrats, House Republicans, Senate Democrats and Senate Republicans each pick two lawmakers to represent them. In addition, as mentioned Saturday, eight citizens will be picked.
Now here’s where things change the most. Applications for the eight citizen spots went live Monday morning. Anyone can apply through Dec. 28. You need to have three references when you apply, however. If you don’t meet that requirement, your application gets tossed out.
All the rest go to state lawmakers, but they don’t make a final decision. Instead, they just narrow the applicants down to a select few. A group of retired judges then chooses the final eight citizens.
What Should Districts Look Like?
When it’s assembled in 2021, this group will be responsible for redrawing Virginia’s voting districts. Once they finish, the maps go to the General Assembly for a vote. But this isn’t like the regular sessions, where a bill gets amended three or four times. The Virginia House and Senate can only vote yes or no on the commission’s maps. The amendment’s creators included this to try and keep partisan politics out of the process. If a lawmaker doesn’t like the way a district’s drawn, he or she can vote no, but they can’t change it.
Now, if the General Assembly shoots down these maps, the commission doesn’t go back for a second try. Instead, the Virginia Supreme Court takes over and decides how the districts will be shaped.