Virginia Redistricting Commission Amendment
Virginia Ballot Measure - Constitutional Amendment #1
Election: Nov. 3, 2020 (General)
Establishes the Virginia Redistricting Commission, a 16-member Commission tasked with establishing districts for the United States House of Representatives and for the Senate and the House of Delegates of the General Assembly. The Commission consists of eight legislative members and eight citizen members. The legislative members consist of four members of the Senate of Virginia and four members of the House of Delegates, with equal representation given to the political parties having the highest and next highest number of members in their respective houses. The citizen members are selected by a selection committee consisting of five retired judges of the circuit courts of Virginia, from lists submitted to the selection committee by the Speaker of the House of Delegates, the leader in the House of Delegates of the political party having the next highest number of members in the House of Delegates, the President pro tempore of the Senate of Virginia, and the leader in the Senate of the political party having the next highest number of members in the Senate. The Commission is required to submit to the General Assembly plans of districts for the Senate and the House of Delegates of the General Assembly no later than 45 days following the receipt of census data and plans of districts for the United States House of Representatives no later than 60 days following the receipt of census data, or July 1 of that year, whichever occurs later. The measure requires certain vote thresholds for plans, depending on the type of district, in order to be submitted to the General Assembly. No amendments may be made to a plan by the General Assembly, and any plan approved by the General Assembly becomes law without the signature of the Governor. The measure requires additional plans to be submitted, or additional time to be given to submit a plan, in certain circumstances, and further provides that districts will be drawn by the Supreme Court of Virginia if such efforts fail. This resolution incorporates SJ 12 and SJ 70.
The proposed amendment would shift the responsibility of drawing these election districts from the General Assembly and the Governor to a bipartisan commission, made up of 16 persons, half being members of the General Assembly and half being citizens of the Commonwealth. This commission would draw the election districts for the U.S. House of Representatives, the state Senate, and the House of Delegates and then submit the maps to the General Assembly for approval. If the commissioners are unable to agree on proposals for maps by a certain date, or if the General Assembly does not approve the submitted maps by a certain date, the commission is allotted additional time to draw new districts, but if maps are not then submitted or approved, the Supreme Court of Virginia becomes responsible for drawing these election districts.
The eight legislative commissioners are appointed by the political party leadership in the state Senate and the House of Delegates, with an equal number from each house and from each major political party. The eight citizen commissioners are picked by a committee of five retired circuit court judges. Four of the retired judges are selected by party leaders in the Senate and the House from a list compiled by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia. These four judges pick the fifth judge from the same list. This selection committee then chooses citizen commissioners from lists created by party leaders in the Senate and the House. Members and employees of Congress or the General Assembly cannot be citizen commissioners. Each party leader in each house gives the selection committee a list of at least 16 candidates, and the committee picks two from each list for a total of eight citizen commissioners.
For a plan to be submitted for the General Assemblys approval, at least six of the eight citizen commissioners and at least six of the eight legislative commissioners must agree to it.
Additionally, for plans for General Assembly districts to be submitted, at least three of the four Senators on the commission have to agree to the Senate districts plan and at least three of the four Delegates on the commission have to agree to the House of Delegates districts plan.
The General Assembly cannot make any changes to these plans, and the Governor cannot veto any plan approved by the General Assembly.
The amendment also adds a requirement that districts provide, where practicable, opportunities for racial and ethnic communities to elect candidates of their choice.
A "yes" vote will make a bipartisan commission responsible for the initial drawing of election districts.
A "no" vote will leave the sole responsibility for drawing the districts with the General Assembly and the Governor.