Redistricting Update: We’re Not There Yet

by Phoebe Kent, Voter editor

Quoted material below from Jackie Rivas, LWV Arlington (from October 2019 Virginia Voter)

“Virginia has an historic opportunity that we can’t let slip away. In the 2019 General Assembly, our legislators passed House Joint Resolution No. 615. HJR 615 is a constitutional amendment to create a citizen-led redistricting commission to draw the voting districts for the U.S. House of Representatives, and the Senate and the House of Delegates of the Virginia General Assembly in 2021, after the 2020 Census. This citizen-led redistricting commission would drag the map-drawing out of the smoke-filled back rooms of Richmond and expose it to the cleansing rays of the sun.”

Eight commissioners will be citizen members appointed by retired circuit court judges; two Delegates and two Senators from each party constitute the other eight. Meetings of the commission will be open to the public. It will hold public hearings across the Commonwealth to receive and consider citizen comments. Its records and documents will be considered public information.

The General Assembly passed the amendment to establish the commission 2019; we had an election on November 5, and now the amendment must be passed – verbatim, with nary a comma change – a second time by the General Assembly in 2020. The League and OneVirginia2021 hope to ensure that that happens. The amendment would be on the ballot on November 3, 2020. A separate enabling bill must also pass that determines how district lines will be drawn that specifically prohibits favoring or disfavoring a party or individual; that keeps intact communities of interest; compactness; other implementation requirements.

After census data is collected in 2020, it will be released in 2021 and redistricting will occur. We are hopeful that a fairer process – a redistricting commission – will be in place by then for drawing legislative districts. Make sure your representatives know that you want this to happen.

LWV-VA Pre-Session Women’s Legislative Roundtable

Prepare for the 2020 General Assembly Session


Get Your Tickets Here


Please join us at the LWV-VA Pre-Session on December 4 to prepare for advocacy and action in the 2020 General Assembly Session and network with Virginia advocacy groups!
This is your opportunity to hear about our legislative priorities and those of our many partners around the Commonwealth. At this Roundtable, advocacy experts from many nonprofit organizations come to speak about their priority issues and legislation, and give their predictions on what may or may not happen during the 2020 General Assembly Session.

Each expert will Predict and Preview where Action will be needed. These experts, 15 to 20 each year, have experience lobbying on the Front Lines in our General Assembly so they provide specific, ready-to-use advocacy/action messages. Not only do advocacy experts preview legislation but one or two Cabinet Secretaries come to describe important issues for the upcoming General Assembly session.
This annual meeting in December prepares us to visit our own legislators at home even before the General Assembly convenes in January.

Virginia Secretary of Finance Aubrey Layne will be the first speaker to share his insights on the priorities and challenges of Governor Northam’s administration. After he speaks, about 20 speakers will each have about 5 to 7 minutes each to share their legislative priorities and concerns in the upcoming Session. Some areas that will be covered by the speakers are
elections, voting rights, transparency in government, education, women’s rights, gun violence prevention & public safety, healthcare, juvenile justice, transportation, and environmental issues.

Other Speakers include:
Brian Cannon One VA 2021
Chris Piper Commissioner of Elections
Walt Latham VRAV Voter Registrars Association of Virginia
Andy Goddard VACPS Virginia Center for Public Safety
Megan Rhyne VCOG Virginia Center for Open Government
Ashna Khana ACLU American Civil Liberties Union
Kati Hornung VAratifyERA Campaign
Tarina Keene NARAL – Naral Pro Choice Virginia
Jill Hanken VPLC Virginia Poverty Law Center
Kim Bobo VICPP Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy
Chris Duncombe TCI The Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis
Rhonda Thissen NAMI National Alliance of Mental Health of Virginia
Corrina Beall Sierra Club / VA Chapter
Danny Plaugher VTA Virginia Transit Association
Sylvia Rogers AAUW American Association of University Women
Brian Koziol Executive Director of Virginia Housing Alliance

Attend our breakfast and hear speakers from our partner organizations in the morning for $20.

A full day pass that includes breakfast, all day speakers and a plated lunch with a special presenter is $50.
If you wish to pay by check, just select that option and either bring a check for the exact amount made out to League of Women Voters of Virginia Education Fund or mail to

Treasurer, 804 Ridge Place, Falls Church, VA 22046.

This event, in addition to providing a lot of good information, also provides opportunities to meet with and network with others who share similar interests and concerns.

General Assembly Results and Observations

Excerpted from a Voter Express article by Carol Noggle, Voter Protection Officer, State League of Virginia

Yes, it was a “wild” General Assembly session, as one newspaper headline stated. All sorts of unanticipated drama involving constitutional officers, but the legislative process continued with the LWV-VA and others in attendance. Observers could see during floor sessions some differences in the House and Senate culture, protocol and decorum, including somedebate obstruction. “Will the Gentleman yield?” “No, I will not yield.” Each side of House attempted to “hijack the rules.” Frequent Point of Personal Privilege (PPP) statements were very “pointed” from both sides on various bills including those regarding firearms in churches, ERA ratification, limiting the power of the Governor, changes to long-standing Rules, teaching Bible literature in the schools, and even on which June Tuesday to have the Primary elections. The House, with many subcommittees, affects the disposition of bills differently than the Senate. The House subcommittees have been described as “powerful gatekeepers” because a successful bill in the full Senate will fail in a House subcommittee that has only seven members.

What actually happened? Of 93 election related bills, 24 passed; among them:

• No-excuse absentee voting, though only for seven days.

• Absentee polling places will stay open properly for voters who are in line at 7pm.

• Preventing split precincts and establishing proper boundary lines advanced.

• Yet to be determined is whether or not voters will be considered “provisional” while waiting for verification of Social Security numbers.

• Improved ballot order to list candidates before the ballot questions will ensure that voters see the candidates first.

• Recount procedures for tied elections were clarified.

What didn’t pass?

• Requiring Voter Registration and information in Commonwealth high schools;

• Restoration of voting rights and voter registration information in regional jails; Extending the deadline for receipt of mail-in ballots;

• Allowing the Photo ID of a student enrolled at an out- of-state university;

• Extending the expiration time allowance for a DMV Photo ID;

• Most gun safety legislation including a “Red Flag” or Extreme Risk Protective Order bill;

• Ranked choice voting in local elections.

Environmental bills that passed included one on coal ash mitigation. Legislators prohibited any carbon dioxide cap-and-trade efforts by the Governor or a state agency. Regarding firearm safety, legislators rejected a “red flag” bill or Extreme Risk Protective Order (ERPO) and a bill related to allowing firearms in churches. One successful opioid-related bill expanded who can possess and administer naloxone or other opioid antagonist, after completing training. Below are articles relating on the successful passage of a bipartisan commission on redistricting and inaction on the ERA. The redistricting bill, aimed at limiting gerrymandering, needs additional steps to be added as an amendment to the Constitution.