Virginia House, again, blocks redistricting reform

virginia general assemblyThe House of Delegates voted 62-33 to block a Democratic amendment that would have barred political considerations from technical adjustments to legislative redistricting.

House Democratic Leader David J. Toscano had introduced an amendment to a bill that would allow lawmakers to make “technical adjustments” to legislative districts after the completion of the redistricting process.

“House Republicans have repeatedly killed our attempts to bring redistricting reform to Virginia,” said Toscano. “Under HB 1409, political opponents can be drawn out of districts under the guise of ‘technical adjustments.’ My simple amendment to this bill would have barred that from happening, and 62 Republicans – including several Republicans who patroned a proposed constitutional amendment containing the same language – voted against it. The Republicans have talked a good game on redistricting, but when it came to a vote to support reform, they couldn’t say yes.”

“Today’s vote on this amendment definitively showed what we had suspected all along: that Republicans don’t truly want redistricting reform,” said Caucus Chair Charniele Herring. “Virginia is one of the most gerrymandered states in the nation, and seventy-four percent of Virginians support giving control of redistricting to an independent board. Unfortunately, the Republican Caucus does not count themselves among that seventy-four percent.”

To cries of “shame,” Republicans on the Privileges & Elections Committee on Friday refused to recognize Democratic efforts to revive a proposed constitutional amendment on redistricting. Footage of the public reaction can be viewed on the Virginia House Democratic Caucus Facebook page.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported yesterday that “Republican leaders have shown little desire to change the system,” while the News & Advance published an editorial last week entitled “Redistricting reform returns power to the people.”

Every House Republican voted to continue to allow gerrymandering except for four who did not vote: Del. Barry Knight, Del. Jim LeMunyon, Del. Randall Minchew and Del. Will Morefield.

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