Negotiations broke down Friday between members of Virginia’s bipartisan redistricting commission after Democrats and Republicans failed to agree on which proposed maps they should use as a starting point. The meeting ended after Democratic citizen co-chair Greta Harris left. The impasse comes just two days before the commission is supposed to turn in maps for Virginia’s state House and Senate districts.
“At this point, I don’t feel as though all members on the commission are sincere in their willingness to compromise and create fair maps for the Commonwealth of Virginia,” Harris said before leaving. A number of other members also left, effectively ending the meeting because it lacked a quorum. Others wanted to push on. Harris told The Associated Press in an email that she did not resign from the commission, and that she had only left the meeting.
The commission is tasked with dividing the state’s voters into new legislative and congressional districts, while also trying to ensure that Black and minority voters are given a fair shot to elect candidates of their choice. The 16-member commission is evenly split between Democratic and Republican appointees. And it was already struggling to break a partisan divide before Friday’s impasse. Bipartisan cooperation has proved elusive, not only in Virginia, but in Ohio and New York. Redistricting commissions in all three states are meeting for the first time this year and have seen members splinter into partisan camps.