Justice Department approves new Virginia voting districts

RICHMOND, VA - Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli announced this afternoon that he has received notice from the U.S. Department of Justice that it has approved Virginia's state legislative redistricting plan as submitted on May 11.

The approval means that all redrawn Virginia Senate and House of Delegates districts have been approved and can be used in the upcoming primaries and November general elections.

Cuccinelli said, "Obviously we are pleased by the Department of Justice's determination that the state legislative redistricting plan passed by the General Assembly and signed by the governor complies with the Voting Rights Act.  We have believed from the beginning of this process that Virginia complied with all legal and constitutional requirements in adopting the new district lines, and the decision of the Department of Justice simply confirms that belief.

"Credit goes to the members of the General Assembly for working diligently to draft a compliant redistricting plan as quickly as they did. Credit also goes to Governor McDonnell for his leadership on this issue.  Finally, credit goes to the Department of Justice for reviewing and approving the plan as quickly as they did.  By issuing a decision in 37 days, the Justice Department has insured that the 2011 state legislative primaries and elections will occur as currently scheduled with little or no complications from the redistricting process.  That is not only good news for the political parties and candidates, but it is good news for voters in the commonwealth, who will be able to go to the polls focused on the issues of the day rather than issues related to redistricting."

Under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, either the Department of Justice or the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia must approve Virginia's redistricting plan.