The United States Department of Justice has cleared Virginia’s newly redrawn congressional districts, which were drawn by the General Assembly earlier this year.
Virginia is one of 16 states required under the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to get federal approval for changes in voting practices or procedures with the Justice Department. Yesterday’s action cleared the districts drawn by House Bill 251, so the new districts are now in effect for both primary and general elections.
The Justice Department’s action clears the way for Virginia’s congressional delegation — and their prospective challengers — to begin campaigning in earnest. One of the first to react was Northern Virginia Democrat Gerry Connolly, whose 11th district has picked up parts of Dumfries, Tysons Corner, Reston and Herndon.
“I am pleased that this long process has come to an end and we now have clarity with respect to the district lines for November’s election,” Connolly said. “First and foremost, I will spend the rest of this year vigorously representing the current 11th district of Virginia, just as I have for the last three years. At the same time, I plan to run hard to earn the privilege of representing the new areas of the 11th district. … I represented much of this territory as Fairfax Chairman and look forward to doing so again.”
The Northern Virginia House delegation consists of:
- District 8 – James Moran (D);
- District 10 – Frank Wolf (R);
- District 11 – Gerry Connolly (D).
Cuccinelli said the Justice Department’s clearance should remove any doubts that the June primaries and November general election can proceed as planned.
“Now that the lines are effective, the June congressional primaries can proceed on time and in an orderly fashion. Having the lines approved now should also guarantee that the November election can occur in the normal course, allowing Virginia to make certain that it meets its obligation under both federal and state law to provide absentee ballots to overseas military voters,” Cuccinelli said.
The Justice Department’s administrative preclearance effectively ends Virginia’s parallel track of seeking judicial approval of the lines in a preclearance suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Only one of the two parallel tracks was needed for approval. Cuccinelli indicated that the suit would be dismissed.