Bipartisan group pushes Va. redistricting reform

A bipartisan group of current and former Virginia officials is trying to take politics out of the state’s redistricting process by the 2021 election.

Currently, the legislature draws the state’s political lines after each census. But the lines often reflect which party is in control of the statehouse.

OneVirginia2021: Virginians for Fair Redistricting, founded by Leigh Middleditch, co-founder of the University of Virginia’s Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership, will advocate for nonpartisan redistricting outside of lawmakers’ control.

Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers and former lawmakers turned out for the group’s kickoff at the Capitol Tuesday afternoon.

In a statement read by Sen. Bryce E. Reeves (R-Spotsylvania), former lieutenant governor Bill Bolling (R) voiced support for the effort, saying that legislative redistricting often leads to the creation of safe seats, which “tends to empower the most extreme voices in both political parties.”

But there was no voice of support from current Republican members of the House of Delegates, who have rejected nonpartisan redistricting in previous years.

OneVirginia will start with a campaign to convince the public to support a nonpartisan redistricting system, Middleditch said at a news conference in the Capitol Tuesday. Then they will focus on lobbying the state legislature to pass a constitutional amendment in 2016 and 2018 (because amendments must be passed before and after an election) to institute a new system.

Rachel Weiner covers cops and courts in Arlington and Alexandria.
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