PNS Daily Newscast - January 22, 2020. 

Round Two as lawmakers battle over Senate rules to try Trump. And New Hampshire voters keep a close eye on Iowa.

2020Talks - January 22, 2020 

Four candidates are stuck in Washington at the Senate impeachment trial instead of on the campaign trail in Iowa, less than two weeks ahead of the first in the nation caucuses.

VA Redistricting Reformers Push for End to Gerrymandering

Every decade, with the results of the U.S. Census in hand, Virginia's legislative districts are drawn. (OneVirginia2021)
Every decade, with the results of the U.S. Census in hand, Virginia's legislative districts are drawn. (OneVirginia2021)
March 5, 2018

RICHMOND, Va. — The borders of certain voting districts in Virginia could be changed more than state lawmakers may have expected. A group known as OneVirginia2021 is spearheading the charge for redistricting, convinced that 11 of the 100 districts in the House of Delegates are unconstitutionally drawn in favor of one political party.

This process, known as gerrymandering, ignores the size and shape requirements of the districts, and the group says both major parties are to blame. Brian Cannon, executive director of OneVirginia2021, said the current lines are a way for politicians to create an advantage rather than playing fair.

"They're really able to have politicians pick their voters instead of having voters actually pick their politicians,” Cannon said. “We're trying to take the redistricting process out of the hands of politicians, have rules that respect communities, and make political gerrymandering illegal."

He said the group is backing Senate Bill 106, which establishes the criteria for the next redistricting process after the 2020 census. The bill would require that equal population, racial and ethnic fairness and compactness all be taken into account when districts are drawn.

Last month, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled the state's congressional districts had been drawn with partisan intent and ordered they be redrawn. A new congressional map could swing some districts toward Democrats in a Republican-controlled Congress.

After the 2011 election, Cannon said, both parties in Virginia took advantage of the gerrymandering process, with Democrats controlling the state Senate and the Republicans on top in the House.

"So, we are under a bipartisan gerrymander, and I think that acutely points out the problem,” he said. “This isn't a partisan issue - this is not a 'left-right,' this is 'right-wrong' - and that bipartisan gerrymander points it out really clearly."

He said OneVirginia2021 hopes for a decision on the legislation in a few months. The group also filed the state's first bipartisan lawsuit over the 11 Senate and House districts that it said were gerrymandered - six of which were drawn by Democrats and five by Republicans.

Trimmel Gomes, Public News Service - VA