Virginia Supreme Court Approves Redistricting Map


RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The Supreme Court of Virginia said Tuesday it had unanimously approved maps establishing congressional and state legislative districts as part of the new Commonwealth redistricting process.

In an order, the court said it had reviewed the final redistricting maps – which were drawn up by two court-appointed people called special masters – as well as numerous public comments on earlier draft maps.

The special masters fully complied with state and federal laws when creating the cards, the court said. The final maps are approved and passed, effective immediately, as per court order.

The once-a-decade reshuffling of political maps had fallen into the hands of the court after a newly created bipartisan redistricting commission failed to agree on maps for Congress or the General Assembly.

The special masters who drew the maps, Sean Trende and Bernard Grofman, were nominated by each political party. The process also included public comments both in writing and through court hearings.

“We drew maps that did not favor either side unduly. These maps were created through a blind, partisan process based on good government mapping,” Trende and Grofman wrote in a 63-page memo dated Monday that outlines some of the many changes made between the draft and final versions. cards. .

Trende and Grofman wrote in their memo that the maps reflect “a true joint effort.”

They said they initially agreed on nearly every issue, “and the few issues we initially disagreed on were resolved by amicable discussion.”

Interested parties were reviewing the maps late Tuesday. None of the General Assembly caucuses had an immediate comment.

OneVirginia2021, a redistricting reform advocacy group that backed the ballot measure creating the new redistricting process, said in a statement that a first look at the maps and memo showed the special masters “went above and beyond to incorporate as much specific public commentary as possible. ”

Trende and Grofman wrote in the memo that under the new congressional maps, as in their draft, they would generally expect a 6-5 Democratic advantage in Virginia’s congressional delegation, over the 7-4 advantage the party currently holds.

They also acknowledged criticism from some parties that said they had not paid enough attention to protecting incumbents, either by weakening congressional districts or by involving multiple state lawmakers.

“We believe that one of the reasons for employing redistricting commissions, however, is to minimize the power of politicians over drawing the lines,” the memo reads.

The final version of the maps brings significant changes to the representation in Hampton Roads.

For example, the second congressional district, represented by Elaine Luria, now includes more rural areas like southern Chesapeake, Suffolk and Isle of Wight County. It previously included parts of the peninsula.

All of Norfolk is now in the third congressional district, represented by Bobby Scott. Parts of Norfolk were previously in the Second District. Luria lives in Norfolk, so now she lives outside the district. It’s unclear what his re-election plans are. Members of Congress are not required to live in the district they represent.

The court also released new maps for the Virginia House of Delegates and Senate. Previous versions of the maps had multiple sitting lawmakers drawn to the same districts.

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