The Democratic-led state Senate and Republican-held House of Delegates have advanced competing plans to redraw Virginia’s 11 congressional districts in response to population shifts revealed by the 2010 census.
On a 71 to 23 vote, the House Tuesday adopted a plan drawn in consultation with the state’s incumbent Congress members. The House spent about 45 minutes debating the plan, as sponsor Del. Bill Janis (R-Goochland) told colleagues that he’d consulted with each of the eight Republicans and three Democrats who now represent Virginia in Congress.
Over the objections of Republicans, Democrats in the state Senate amended the House’s plan with a competing map. The Senate’s map is designed to create a “minority influence” district in the 3rd Congressional district, where black voters would compromise a significant minority. The plan would make the 4th Congressional district a majority-minority district.
The Voting Rights Act requires that Virginia’s Congressional map include at least one district where minorities are in the majority, as the plan now does.
The goal, senators said, was to ensure that black voters have the ability to select winning candidates in more than one district, given that 20 percent of the state’s population is African-American.
The Senate’s Privileges and Elections Committee adopted the bill on a straight party line 9 to 6 vote.
The amended bill will be considered for final adoption by the full Senate when the chamber next gathers for business, likely on April 25. The bill will then head to conference, for the two chambers to look for compromise.