WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Friday, the Virginia Redistricting Commission failed to approve final district maps for the General Assembly. Several Democrats walked out of the meeting after Republicans rebuffed suggestions for reaching a compromise. The committee’s eight Democrats proposed developing final plans from a Republican-drawn House of Delegates map and a Democratic-drawn state Senate map, but Republicans rejected this offer. The walkout deprived the commission of a quorum, leaving it unable to meet an Oct. 10 deadline.
Virginia is using a redistricting commission for the first time this year. Voters approved a constitutional amendment during the 2020 election that shifted map-drawing authority from the legislature to a 16-member commission of eight citizens and eight legislators equally divided between the parties. The process, however, has been mired in controversy from the start, with the commission struggling to blend Democratic and Republican proposals and deadlocked over how to best ensure the political representation of minority groups in the Commonwealth.
The commission’s failure to approve new maps for the General Assembly by the deadline means map-drawing is now the responsibility of the conservative-leaning Supreme Court of Virginia. The state Supreme Court will hire two experts — one selected by Republicans and another by Democrats — to draw maps for the justices to consider. Despite the failure to approve General Assembly maps, the commission expects to continue working on new congressional districts. The commission has until Oct. 25 to redraw Virginia’s 11 congressional districts. The Supreme Court of Virginia will step in again if the commission fails.