Virginia’s Bipartisan Commission on Redistricting

The Story:

In Virginia, a state with a close partisan balance between Democrats and Republicans, the people of the state decided in a referendum last November that their next round of redistricting will not be the work of the legislature as such, but will be assigned to a commission that will consist of 8 legislators and 8 private citizens.


The US census is taken in every year that ends with a zero. Furthermore, ever since the US Supreme Court decisions requiring one-person-one-vote district lines in the 1960s, every census has disclosed sufficient demographic change to require redistricting. This always generates state-by-state disputes over what is a fair redistricting system and what is partisan gerrymandering.

The Virginia plan is to short-circuit the usual trench warfare. The panel will draw the new district maps, and its maps will go to the General Assembly as a yes/no choice. That body will be able to reject them but will have no opportunity to amend them. If the General Assembly accepts the maps, they become the law.

If on the other hand the General Assembly rejects the maps, the state supreme court will draw the lines.

The Thing to Know:

Reformers sought last year to put this on the ballot in several states. But the practicalities of collecting signatures during a pandemic worked against them. They did prevail in Virginia, though.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.