Governor’s announcement follows repeated requests by House Democrats
(Richmond) – Today, Governor Northam called the General Assembly to convene in a special session on redistricting on August 30. The Governor’s announcement follows the House Democratic Caucus’s repeated requests to Speaker Kirk Cox to move forward with redrawing the eleven legislative districts determined by the court to be racially gerrymandered.
“I am gratified that Governor Northam is convening a special session to not only comply with the court’s suggestion, but to serve the best interest of Virginia voters,” said Delegate Toscano. “We have been operating with unconstitutional districts drawn by Republicans since 2011, and we must rectify them immediately.”
House Democratic Leader David Toscano first sent Speaker Cox a letter on July 16, calling on the Republicans to comply with the court’s suggestion that the General Assembly redraw the districts by October 30 this year. The District Court of the Eastern District of Virginia ruled at the end of June that eleven districts violate the Equal Protection Clause of the US Constitution by illegally packing African Americans, effectively diluting their voting power.
Toscano repeated his request to Speaker Cox in a second letter on August 13, following the court’s order that House Republicans state by August 24whether they intend to complete the new maps by the October 30 deadline.
Delegate Toscano wrote in the second letter, “We have a constitutional responsibility to draw fair district boundaries and do it as quickly as possible. We should move forward without expending more taxpayer monies on this case.”
The protracted defense by House Republicans of these unconstitutional districts have already cost taxpayers almost $5 million.
The Speaker did not directly respond to either letter.
House Democrats have called for redistricting reform in Virginia for years. Their bills have overwhelmingly been killed in Republican-majority committees without reaching the House floor.