WASHINGTON – Where you vote and who you can choose for Congress are still not decided as 2012 begins in Virginia. It could be decided by the General Assembly, or it could be the federal courts that decide.
The state already missed a Jan. 1 deadline for redrawing congressional districts based on population shifts from the 2010 Census. A plan drawn up in the Republican-controlled House of Delegates last year failed to get a vote in the State Senate, then controlled by the Democrats.
That prompted at least one lawsuit, and another could be filed this week.
Virginia House Speaker Bill Howell, R-Stafford, says though he’s confident the General Assembly will get the job done in the 60-day legislative session beginning Jan. 11.
“It’s my understanding that the courts prefer for the legislatures to draw the lines,” says Howell.
“They don’t want to get into the line drawing business if they don’t have to.”
But a dispute control over the State Senate, which is now split 20-20 between the Democrats and Republicans, could have an impact on reaching any final agreement.
Any plan passed by the Republican-controlled House of Delegates also must pass the Senate, where the Democrats may challenge Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling’s authority to break tie votes.
There are now eight Republicans and three Democrats representing Virginia in Congress.
Redrawn lines, which could favor one party over the other, could dramatically impact that ratio.