Welcome to the first edition of Virginia Scope’s daily newsletter rounding up news from around Virginia. Today we highlight the redistricting process in Virginia after a new constitutional amendment was passed this year. We also high
Redistricting: How the new process will work in Virginia – Virginia Scope
by Brandon Jarvis
A constitutional amendment establishing a bipartisan redistricting commission passed on a ballot referendum with an overwhelming 65% of the vote on election day. That was the final step of approval for the legislation and it is now in Virginia’s Constitution.
Every ten years, right after the census takes place, state legislators are responsible for redrawing congressional and state districts in accordance with the latest population changes. Previously in Virginia, the majority party of the General Assembly would be responsible for creating the districts behind closed doors in conference rooms. There was no bipartisan work taking place and it led to several gerrymandered districts. Federal judges ruled in 2018 that 11 House of Delegates districts were racially gerrymandered and they ordered lawmakers to fix them. The districts were eventually redrawn, mostly benefiting Democrats. The newly-formed commission will be a drastic change from the previous way that the lines were drawn.
The new Process:
By November 15th, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia was required to certify a list of 10 circuit court judges that were willing to be on a redistricting panel – these judges cannot be related to anyone who holds office at the state or federal level. The Chief Justice was then required to send that list over to the party leaders in each chamber of the General Assembly. Each leader then has five business days to choose one judge, then those four judges have three days to select a fifth judge that will serve as the chair of the circuit court panel.
But before releasing the report, records show the inspector general’s office (OSIG) sent Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration an advance notice that the document would be distributed “on or about” July 24 to journalists who had requested it under the Freedom of Information Act.
The email appeared to set off a chain of events that would delay the report’s release and end with the redaction of nearly everything in it, according to emails the Virginia Mercury obtained through public records requests.
By Michael Martz
But the state is boosting supplies of rapid tests for the coronavirus at nursing homes across Virginia so they can keep close watch for potential infection of employees and residents, while long-term care facilities look for ways to allow residents to meet safely with their families.
Chase says Virginia Democrats ‘hate white people’ and want Richmond registrar out because she’s white – Richmond Times-Dispatch
by Andrew Cain
On Friday night, Chase posted on Facebook in response to a Richmond Times-Dispatch story about state Democrats asking for Richmond voter registrar Kirk Showalter’s resignation or removal.
“Make no mistake. The Virginia Democratic Party is racist to its core,” Chase wrote.
By Elisha Sauers
While the pandemic has not reached the level it has in other parts of the country, more people are getting sick in Virginia every day. The sharp increase seen in the southwestern corner of the state a few weeks ago is steadily moving east. Now the central region is seeing substantial viral activity as well, according to the Virginia Department of Health.
The state reported 2,544 new cases, its second highest COVID-19 caseload of the pandemic, on Friday. It was topped by Monday’s 2,677, but that total was somewhat inflated because of backlogs in data reporting, state public health officials said.
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