DOJ clears Virginia’s redrawn congressional districts
The United States Department of Justice informed the office of Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli on Wednesday that it had no objection to Virginia’s newly redrawn congressional districts, which were drawn by the General Assembly earlier this year.
Virginia is one of 16 states required under the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to pre-clear (get federal approval for) changes in voting practices or procedures with the Justice Department. Today, the department has pre-cleared the districts drawn by House Bill 251, so the new districts are now in effect for both primary and general elections.
“I would like to thank the Justice Department for working with my office in its prompt review of Virginia’s preclearance submission. As we have maintained from the beginning of this process, it was clear that the lines drawn by the General Assembly in HB251 met all of the requirements of the United States Constitution, the Virginia Constitution, and the Voting Rights Act,” said Cuccinelli.
Cuccinelli continued, “Now that the lines are effective, the June congressional primaries can proceed on time and in an orderly fashion. Having the lines approved now should also guarantee that the November election can occur in the normal course, allowing Virginia to make certain that it meets its obligation under both federal and state law to provide absentee ballots to overseas military voters.”
The Justice Department’s administrative preclearance effectively ends Virginia’s parallel track of seeking judicial approval of the lines in a preclearance suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Only one of the two parallel tracks was needed for approval. Cuccinelli indicated that the suit would be dismissed.