Deeds and Toscano Introduce Redistricting Commission Bill

(Charlottesville, VA – January 4, 2013) – Virginia State Senator Creigh Deeds and House of Delegates Democratic Leader David Toscano are introducing a bill to reform the redistricting process. The bill will amend the Virginia Constitution to establish the Virginia Redistricting Commission, a bipartisan group that would create Congressional and State legislative districts which are contiguous, compact, and respect city and county boundaries – and specifically be drawn without favor to a political party or legislator.

“The main reason for political gridlock is legislative districts that have been gerrymandered to overwhelmingly favor an incumbent’s party, resulting in hyperpartisan legislators unable to work together for the common good” said Senator Deeds, who has been championing non-partisan redistricting since 2003. “This bill would result in much more competitive elections, and revive an endangered political species, the political moderate”.

Stated Delegate Toscano, a co-patron of the measure, “Redistricting has become a way by which those in power maintain their control – and both parties have done it. We are in a unique position right now. The next redistricting will occur after the 2020 census. Hopefully this will make it easier for incumbents to put aside narrow self-interest and make a change to help the Commonwealth’s interest.”

Senator Deeds noted how partisan redistricting has resulted in Charlottesville and Albemarle being part of a congressional district that runs from Danville to Fauquier County, a result of incumbent protectionism driving redistricting. “Instead of voters choosing their legislators, legislators are choosing their constituents. That must change.”

The Virginia Redistricting Commission would have 13 members, none of whom could be sitting legislators or employees of the US Congress or the Virginia General Assembly. Six would be appointed by Democrats, six by Republicans, with an independent member appointed jointly, to serve as Chairman.

The Commission would redistrict according to specific criteria to create districts that are contiguous and compact, with an aim of avoiding the division of cities and counties into more than one district. Districts could not be drawn for the purpose of favoring a political party or incumbent legislator or member of Congress, and would not use election results or demographic information except as required by federal law.