The Bulletin

Gov. Northam calls a special session to redraw House districts

By: - August 20, 2018 11:11 am

The General Assembly will reconvene Aug. 30 under an order from Gov. Ralph Northam to redraw 11 House of Delegates districts that were deemed unconstitutional.

Virginia has been in court over the 11 disputed districts since 2013. Twelve voters claimed the state packed black voters into the district during the regular redistricting process in 2011. Although the maps were drawn by a Republican-led committee, they had bipartisan support when passed.

In June, the U.S. District Court gave the state until Oct. 30 to redraw the districts.

“It is in the public interest for the General Assembly to finalize constitutional maps as soon as possible,” Northam said in a statement. “Virginians deserve that clarity.”

Democrats asked Republicans to schedule a special session quickly. The Party has been working on options for a new map, according to Del. David Toscano, who serves as Democratic Leader.

“We hope that the House Republicans will be receptive and show a good faith effort to pass new maps in the best interest of Virginia voters,” he said in a statement.

Republicans filed to appeal the court’s decision, and Speaker of the House Kirk Cox said the party plans to continue the appeals process through the special session.

“The Special Session does not change our plans to pursue all the legal protections provided to us by Federal law and the Constitution,” Cox said in a statement.

Both parties have said the redistricting case has cost the state millions. The Attorney General’s Office recently asked the court to reduce some of those costs.

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Mechelle Hankerson
Mechelle Hankerson

Mechelle, born and raised in Virginia Beach, is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University with a degree in mass communications and a concentration in print journalism. She covered the General Assembly for the university’s Capital News Service and was among 12 student journalists in swing states selected by the Washington Post to cover the 2012 presidential election. For the past five years, she has covered local government, crime, housing, infrastructure and other issues at the Raleigh News & Observer and The Virginian-Pilot, where she most recently covered the state’s biggest city, Virginia Beach. Mechelle was with the Virginia Mercury until January 3rd, 2019.