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Future of Redistricting Commission in Jeopardy

Virginia Redistricting Commission
Jahd Khalil
/
RadioIQ
Senator Ryan McDougle, Senator Bill Stanley, and Delegate Les Adams discuss how to respond to a Democratic proposal to have one party's proposal for each house of the General Assembly be the starting point for a consensus map.

Three commissioners walked out of the Virginia’s Redistricting Commissions Friday meeting after Republicans rejected a compromise on where to start drawing maps, putting the future of the commission in jeopardy.

Time and patience has been running out for the commissioners drawing Virginia’s political maps.

“I feel like we probably need a countdown clock to midnight on Monday somewhere in the room,” said Commissioner Sean Kumar, referring to a constitutional deadline for he and the 15 other commissioners to submit maps to the General Assembly by Sunday.

The first step towards that submission would require the commission to do something they hadn’t done since the beginning of the year: agree on a map.

Republicans asked to use the Republican proposal for the senate as a starting point, while Democrats proposed working from their team’s draft for the Senate and a Republican House map. Republicans voted down the compromise measure, saying one of the maps had no public comments.

During a break following the partisan votes, the Republicans scrambled to figure out a response. They met in groups of two in another room to skirt open meeting regulations.

Co-chair Greta Harris didn’t see the Republicans ever compromising.

“At this point, I don't feel as though all members on the commission are sincere in their willingness to compromise,” Harris said when the commissioners returned from recess. “If I can't believe the people I am supposed to work with are true and sincere, regrettably I am done. So thank you very much for the opportunity to serve, but I will remove myself from the commission at this point.”

Brendan Hutchinson, James Abrenio, and Harris then walked out. She said in an email that she didn’t resign and neither did the other two commissioners, who are also Democrats that don’t sit in the legislature.

But the walkout meant that the commission didn’t have enough people to conduct business, perplexing the remaining commissioners about how to move forward with an incredibly consequential process in Virginia’s electoral system.

It’s not clear they’ll return if additional meetings are held over the weekend, when one tentative meeting was going to happen if Friday’s meeting required more time.

If the commission fails, the Supreme Court of Virginia will draw Virginia's new political maps.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

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