In its 2020 regular session, Virginia's General Assembly debated whether to send to Virginians a constitutional amendment that transfers the General Assembly’s redistricting responsibility to a newly created Virginia Redistricting Commission (VRC). The VRC is a bipartisan commission of legislators and citizens that will redraw electoral districts before sending them to the General Assembly for up-or-down ratification without alteration. If a supermajority of the VRC fails to agree on redistricted maps or the General Assembly fails to approve the maps, the Virginia Supreme Court will draw the districts. The amendment triggered a fight over how to redistrict, how to end partisan gerrymandering and how to protect minority voting rights. Virginians ratified the amendment in November 2020, but the disagreements over the amendment and the VRC linger. The amendment and the VRC do not fix Virginia’s redistricting problems. The VRC will end partisan gerrymandering but does not preclude bipartisan gerrymandering. The VRC may help protect minority voting rights but may do so no more effectively or vigorously than the General Assembly would. Finally, the amendment forces mapmakers – the VRC or the Virginia Supreme Court – to resolve policy issues regarding representation the General Assembly should have addressed before jettisoning its redistricting responsibilities. The constitutional amendment reflects vigorous action but may not yield much progress toward resolving Virginia's redistricting problems.
Henry L. Chambers Jr.,
The Fight Over the Virginia Redistricting Commission,
Rich. Pub. Int. L. Rev.
Available at: https://scholarship.richmond.edu/pilr/vol24/iss1/6