RICHMOND – Governor Bob McDonnell issued the following statement regarding the redistricting legislation passed by the General Assembly this evening: “I thank the General Assembly for passing this new redistricting plan. I will sign this legislation as soon as it reaches my desk. The plan as passed does address most of the criteria I outlined in my veto letter, and ensures that the elected members of the legislative branch fulfill their constitutional obligation to draw our electoral lines every ten years.
In my veto letter, I asked the Senate to send me a plan that was bipartisan and addressed potential legal issues. The plan approved today is in line with those goals. This plan retains more geographic and municipal boundaries, contains districts that are somewhat more compact, and passed the Senate on a strong bipartisan vote. In these aspects it is similar to the House plan. It is a great improvement over the previous plan that I vetoed, and which failed to gain a single vote from the minority party. I applaud the Republican and Democratic members of the Senate who worked well together to craft this compromise plan.
At my request, the Attorney General's office has reviewed the preliminary data regarding the plan. Based on this review, they concluded that the plan meets the relevant legal requirements of the U.S. Constitution, the Virginia Constitution, and the Voting Rights Act. I have asked the Attorney General to ensure that the legislation will be precleared in a timely fashion so that the 2011 election process can get underway.
While additional improvements in measures of compactness and preservation of communities of interest would have been ideal, and no plan is perfect, the Constitution of Virginia tasks the General Assembly with drawing lines, and further delay could have turned that authority over to the courts. With state and federal lawsuits currently pending that request court-drawn lines, prompt action was required to preserve this inherently legislative function, and permit timely preclearance under the Voting Rights Act.
I also wish to thank the many groups that have been involved throughout the redistricting process, including the Independent Bipartisan Advisory Commission on Redistricting. I am confident that their involvement and detailed report had a significant positive impact on the process by allowing members of the General Assembly to consider further options as they worked together to pass today’s plan. I look forward to continuing to work with the members of the General Assembly, and all Virginians, in our crucial ongoing effort to bring new jobs and more opportunities to every region of Virginia.”