Sunday, February 11, 2007

Bipartisan Senate Coalition Passes Deeds’s Virginia Redistricting Commission

Bipartisan Senate Coalition Passes Deeds’s Virginia Redistricting Commission

January 23, 2007
On 22-18 Vote, Republicans and Democrats Join to Send SJR 352 to House of Delegates
RICHMOND—Virginia came one step closer to establishing a bipartisan Redistricting Commission when 16 Democrats joined with six Republicans in the Senate today to pass a proposal put forth by Sen. Creigh Deeds. The 22-18 vote was the first time such a resolution reached the floor of either house of the General Assembly.

“For too long, those elected have chosen their electorate,” Deeds said on the Senate floor before the vote. “Democrats did it when we were in charge. Republicans did it the last time. But wrongs are only compounded when they are repeated. The people of this Commonwealth deserve better.”

Deeds continued: “If we succeed and amend this language to our constitution, we will truly rise above our own self-interests, put the people of Virginia first, and increase the likelihood of competition in all election districts. We all like to win elections by large margins, but democracy is best served when people have meaningful choices. None of us should fear the democracy of the electoral market.”

Deeds worked with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to pass the resolution, building a coalition that included his fellow Democrats and Republicans Harry B. Blevins, Ken Cuccinelli, H. Russell Potts, Jr., Kenneth W. Stolle, John C. Watkins, and Martin E. Williams.

“This wouldn’t have been possible without friends on both sides of the aisle who share a commitment to finding consensus and common ground,” Deeds said after the vote. “Only by working together can we accomplish big things for the people of Virginia.”

For the last five years, Deeds has proposed the creation of a 13-member redistricting commission—chaired by a non-partisan member—that would remove partisanship and incumbent protection from the drawing of legislative and congressional districts. This year’s proposal is Senate Joint Resolution 352. [See: SJR 352, 2007]

The Deeds redistricting proposal would prohibit districts drawn “for the purpose of favoring a political party or incumbent legislator or member of Congress,” specifically the use of addresses of incumbent legislators or members of Congress, political affiliations of registered voters, previous election results, or demographic information, other than population counts, except as required by the Constitution and laws of the United States.

“I’m asking my friends on both sides of the aisle to join me in urging our colleagues in the House of Delegates to pass this important legislation,” said Deeds. “Together we can improve our elections and our democracy for generations to come.”

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