Starting on Monday, applications for state residents to become citizen members of the Virginia Redistricting Commission are now open and available online.
Virginians have until December 28th, or just under a month, to apply for the possibility to serve alongside eight lawmakers on the commission and take part in the state’s new process for drawing legislative and congressional district lines.
The new method of redistricting and the 16-member commission to go with it was approved by voters back on Election Day as a constitutional amendment. Because of delays with 2020 U.S. Census data the commission will be required to work under a tight schedule to create maps for the pivotal 2021 elections of governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general as well as all every seat in the Virginia House of Delegates.
There are several requirements and exemptions to be eligible to apply for one of the eight citizen commissioner spots. Applicants must be residents of Virginia, registered to vote in the state for the last three years and have voted in two of the last three general elections. Education level, work experience and socioeconomic status are not factored in the application process.
Three letters of recommendation are also required to be sent in with each application.
Any person who has held or ran for political office, worked for a lawmaker, campaign or political entity, or has been a registered lobbyist within the last five years cannot apply for the commission.
Additionally, relatives of people who may be disqualified under those exemptions are not allowed to apply either.
The application form and all other information on the redistricting commission can be found on the Virginia Division of legislative Services (DLS) website.
Completed applications can be submitted by email to [email protected], faxed to (804) 698-1899, or mailed to the DLS, Attn: Selection Committee, 900 E. Main St., Richmond, VA 23219.
Once the window is closed, legislative leaders from each party of the House and Senate will review the pool of applicants and submit lists of nominees to the selection committee – consisting of five retired circuit court judges – for the final selection, which is expected to take place in early January.
When choosing citizen members, the selection committee must consider the racial, ethnic, geographic, and gender diversity of the Commonwealth, as mandated in the redistricting commission language passed by the General Assembly.
Four out of five members of the selection committee were chosen earlier this month by the same legislative leaders from a list provided by Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia Donald W. Lemons.
The members are the Honorable Joanne F. Alper, William C. Andrews III, Larry B. Kirksey, and David Pugh. Those four members selected the Honorable Pamela Baskervill to serve as the selection committee chairwoman.
On Wednesday, the committee held its first meeting electronically via teleconference, which can also be viewed on the DLS website, and approved the application process. The panel of judges also approved the application form itself during the meeting, but with a slight change that the document asks about education instead of specific college and graduate degrees.
After the citizen and legislative members are selected, the commission will hold its first public meeting on February 1st, 2021, but cannot begin working on the development of the maps until receiving the Census data, which is expected to happen in the spring.
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