State Watch

Virginia commission will redraw districts from scratch

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Virginia’s Redistricting Commission voted on Monday to redraw the commonwealth’s congressional and state legislative districts from scratch, marking a victory for anti-gerrymandering advocates.

The 16-person commission, made up of eight Virginia lawmakers and eight citizens, voted 12-4 and planned to enlist a bipartisan group to help outline the state’s new political maps.

The development comes after voters approved a constitutional amendment last fall that moved the power in the redrawing process from the state legislature to the commission. Voters previously voiced concerns that earlier maps have been heavily influenced by politics.

The redrawing process will begin Thursday once analysts hired by the state release new population estimates that include the redistribution of the state’s prison population, according to The Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Republicans have brought on John Morgan, who helped draft the House of Delegates maps for Republicans in 2011, while Democrats have enlisted Ken Strasma, the CEO of HaystaqDNA. The map Morgan worked on was eventually struck down.

But critics have said the commission has already become too partisan, with Democrats blasting the GOP’s decision to bring on Morgan. Del. Marcus Simon (D), a member of the commission, referred to Morgan as a “gerrymandering mastermind,” according to 13 News Now in Hampton.

Redistricting advocates are pushing to bring on a nonpartisan map drawer.

Tags bipartisan Congressional maps district maps Gerrymandering Hampton nonpartisan Redistricting Virginia

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