Big news from VA: Lawmakers approve independent redistricting commission

Chris Satullo| February 25th, 2019

Brian Cannon, executive director, OneVirginia2021 | Image Credit: Community Idea Stations

Even states in the midst of political chaos sometimes get something useful done. The Virginia General Assembly has passed a bill setting up an independent commission to draw the state's election maps in 2021.

The new, 16-member commission, approved in a vote Saturday, will have a mix of lawmakers and regular citizens, with some provisions to prevent it from being packed with partisans.

The commission's assignment will be to draw both congressional and legislative election maps for Virginia after the 2020 Census.

Not everyone was happy with the vote. Some African-American lawmakers voiced strong objections.

Here's a report from the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Here's a video story combined with the Associated Press' news dispatch, from WRIC-TV, the ABC affiliate in Richmond.

The result is a victory for the state's leading reform advocate, Brian Cannon, who heads the OneVirginia2021 organization.  Cannon says in these stories that the bill just passed is not his dream legislation, but he is clearly not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good.

Here's a pertinent fact about Cannon, a good friend of the Draw the Lines project: He was first drawn to the redistricting issue when, while a law student at William & Mary, he was part of a team that won honors in a 2011 Virginia mapping competition.  That contest was conducted on the original version of DistrictBuilder, the same digital mapping tool by Azavea that we use here (in upgraded form) at DTL.

So, we can't help but wonder, will one of the student winners of our first public mapping competition someday pull off the same kind of legislative accomplishment in Pennsylvania?

Now, that's the stuff of dreams.