Virginia

Overview

Virginia Redistricting Process

Congressional and Legislative

Congressional and legislative maps are enacted by the 16-member Virginia Redistricting Commission.

No later than December 1st of the year ending in zero, the Virginia House and Senate majority and minority leaders each nominate two Commissioners from their party’s chamber delegation. The remaining eight commissioners are citizens selected by the Redistricting Commission Selection Committee. No later than November 15 of the year ending in zero, the Chief Justice of the Virginia Supreme Court submits a list of retired Virginia circuit court judges willing to serve on the Committee to the majority and minority leaders in the Virginia General Assembly, who each select one judge from the list to serve. Those four members then select, by a majority vote, a fifth member from the list of judges to serve as Chair of the Selection Committee. No later than January 1st of the year ending in one, the House and Senate majority and minority leaders each submit a list of sixteen eligible citizen candidates to the Selection Committee, which selects two from each list to serve as the remaining eight Commissioners. No later than February 1st of the year ending in one, a chair is selected from the citizen members in a public meeting.

All Commission meetings, records, documents and communications relating to the Commission’s work are made available to the public. Prior to proposing and voting on any plans, the Commission must hold at least three public hearings in different parts of the state. Legislative district maps must be submitted to the General Assembly no later than 45 days after receiving the state’s census data. Senate plans must be approved by at least six citizen-Commissioners and six legislator-Commissioners, including at least three of the Senator-Commissioners. House plans must be approved by at least six citizen-Commissioners and six legislator-Commissioners, including at least three of the Delegate-Commissioners. Congressional district maps must be submitted to the General Assembly no later than 60 days after receiving census data or July 1st of that year, whichever is later. Plans must be approved by at least six of the legislator-Commissioners and at least six of the citizen-Commissioners.

The General Assembly must adopt or reject submitted plans within 45 days. If the General Assembly fails to adopt one or more of the maps by then, the Commission has 14 days to submit a new plan, which the General Assembly must approve or reject within 7 days. If this plan fails, or if the Commission otherwise fails to submit a new map by the deadline, the maps are drawn by the Supreme Court of Virginia.

Source: Va. Const. art. II, § 6; Va. Code Ann. §§ 30-391 - 30-400.


Previous Redistricting Cycles

2010

  • Congressional
    • Original PlanHB 251
      • Passed = January 20, 2012 (R-controlled)
      • Signed = January 25, 2012
      • Preclearance = Granted on March 14, 2012
    • Litigation History
      • Page v. Va. State Bd. of Elections, 58 F.Supp.3d 533 (E.D. Va. 2014): Plaintiffs challenged one of the districts in the General Assembly’s enacted congressional plan as a racial gerrymander in violation of the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. On October 7, 2014, the district court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, finding that race was the predominant factor when drawing the challenged district and such use of race was not narrowly tailored for the plan to survive strict scrutiny.
      • Page v. Va. State Bd. of Elections II, No. 3:13-cv-678 (E.D. Va. June 5, 2015): On remand, the district court again found that the challenged congressional district was an impermissible racial gerrymander in violation of the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause, and ordered the General Assembly to enact a remedial plan by September 1, 2015.
        • Wittman v. Personhuballah, 136 S.Ct. 1732 (2016): Incumbent members of Congress who intervened in the case appealed the district court’s decision striking down the General Assembly’s enacted congressional plan on racial gerrymandering grounds. On May 23, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the appellant-representatives lacked standing to appeal the decision.
      • Personhuballah v. Alcorn, 155 F.Supp.3d 552 (E.D. Va. 2016): After the General Assembly failed to enact a remedial congressional plan in accordance with the court’s order to do so, the federal court assumed responsibility for enacting a new plan. On January 7, 2016, the court adopted one of the plans proposed to it, Plan 16, for use in the 2016 election.
  • Legislative
    • Original PlanHB 5001
      • Passed = April 11, 2011 (Split-control)
      • Vetoed = April 15, 2011 (R-controlled)
    • Second PlanHB 5005
      • Passed = April 28, 2011 (Split-control)
      • Signed = April 29, 2011
      • Preclearance = Granted on June 17, 2011
    • Amended Senate PlanSB 310
      • Passed = February 26, 2014 (R-controlled)
      • Vetoed = April 7, 2014 (D-controlled)
    • Amended Senate PlanSB 986
      • Passed = February 17, 2015 (R-controlled)
      • Vetoed = March 26, 2015 (D-controlled)
    • Amended Senate PlanSB 1237
      • Passed = February 17, 2015 (R-controlled)
      • Vetoed = March 26, 2015 (D-controlled)
    • Amended House PlanHB 1332
      • Passed = February 20, 2015 (R-controlled)
      • Vetoed = March 26, 2015 (D-controlled)
    • Amended House PlanHB 1699
      • Passed = February 20, 2015 (R-controlled)
      • Vetoed = March 26, 2015 (D-controlled)
    • Amended House PlanHB 1417
      • Passed = February 23, 2015 (R-controlled)
      • Vetoed = March 26, 2015 (D-controlled)
    • Amended Senate PlanSB 1084
      • Passed = February 24, 2015 (R-controlled)
      • Vetoed = March 26, 2015 (D-controlled)
    • Litigation History
      • Bethune-Hill v. Va. State Bd. of Elections, 137 S.Ct. 788 (2017): Plaintiffs filed a federal lawsuit challenging the General Assembly’s enacted state House and Senate plans as racial gerrymanders in violation of the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. The district court initially upheld the plans after concluding from its analysis of the new lines that race did not predominate in their creation and that the General Assembly had good reasons to believe its use of a racial target percentage was necessary to comply with the Voting Rights Act. On March 1, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s invalidation of one district but reversed and remanded as to the other challenged districts on the grounds the district court misapplied the standard of review when determining whether race was the predominant consideration when creating the plans.
      • Vesilind v. Va. State Bd. of Elections, 813 S.E.2d 739 (Va. 2018): Plaintiffs filed a lawsuit challenging the General Assembly’s enacted state House and Senate plans as violating the state constitution’s compactness requirement. The trial court upheld the plans as constitutional, and on May 31, 2018, the Virginia Supreme Court affirmed, upholding the plans as in compliance with the Virginia Constitution.
      • Bethune-Hill v. Va. State Bd. of Elections, 326 F.Supp.3d 128 (E.D. Va. 2018): On June 26, 2018, on remand from the U.S. Supreme Court, the district court struck down eleven challenged state House districts as racial gerrymanders in violation of the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause and ordered they be redrawn.
        • Va. House of Delegates v. Bethune-Hill, 139 S.Ct. 1945 (2019): Virginia’s Attorney General announced the state would not be appealing the district court’s invalidation of several House districts on racial gerrymandering grounds, but the state House of Delegates did appeal that decision on their own. On June 17, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the House did not have standing to appeal the decision, either to represent the State’s interests or in its own right.
      • Bethune-Hill v. Va. State Bd. of Elections, 368 F.Supp.3d 872 (E.D. Va. 2019): After the General Assembly failed to enact a remedial state House plan pursuant to the court’s order, the court took responsibility for implementing a remedial plan and appointed a special master to assist in doing so. On February 14, 2019, the district court adopted its final remedial state House plan and ordered it be used for the 2019 legislative elections.

2000

  • Congressional
    • Original PlanHB 18
      • Passed = July 10, 2001 (R-controlled)
      • Signed = July 19, 2001
      • Preclearance = Granted on October 16, 2001
    • Litigation History
      • Hall v. Virginia, 385 F.3d 421 (4th Cir. 2004): Plaintiffs filed a federal lawsuit challenging one of the congressional districts in the General Assembly’s enacted plan as violating Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The district court dismissed the complaint on the grounds the plaintiffs failed to satisfy the requisite preconditions for bringing a Section 2 claim, and on September 22, 2004, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed the dismissal.
  • Legislative
    • Original PlansHB 1 (House); SB 1 (Senate)
      • Passed = April 18, 2001 (R-controlled)
      • Signed = April 21, 2001
      • Preclearance = Granted as to House plan on June 15, 2001, and as to Senate plan on July 9, 2001
    • Litigation History
      • Wilkens v. West, 571 S.E.2d 100 (Va. 2002): Plaintiffs filed a lawsuit challenging several of the General Assembly’s enacted state House and Senate districts as violating the state constitution on a number of grounds, including racial gerrymanders, pairing incumbents, partisan gerrymandering, compactness, and equal population. On November 1, 2002, the Virginia Supreme Court reversed the trial court’s judgment invalidating several House and Senate districts on the grounds the plaintiffs either lacked standing to pursue those claims or failed to establish their alleged constitutional violations, thereby upholding the plans.

Ballot Measure Process

Kinds of Ballot Measures
Only the Virginia legislature may refer amendments to the ballot. There is no initiative or referendum process.

Source: Va. Const. art. XII, § 1.


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