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Redistricting Commission cancels remaining meetings

People seated
Crixell Matthews
Democratic citizen member James Abrenio at an August meeting of the Virginia Redistricting Comission. (Photo: Crixell Matthews/VPM News)

In a meeting on Wednesday, the Virginia Redistricting Commission cancelled both of its remaining public hearings and meetings, citing a failure to agree on criteria for map drawing. Like in previous meetings, commissioners found themselves at a partisan stalemate.

Co-chairs Mackenzie Babichenko and Greta Harris agreed that if two commissioners — one Democrat and one Republican — could come to consensus on a map in private, there may be a way forward. Groups larger than two can’t legally discuss commission business out of the public eye.

Democratic citizen member James Abrenio chafed, though he didn’t oppose the decision.

“The concern that I would have is that - isn’t that kinda the whole point of the commission, [to] draw maps in public?” Abrenio said.

The commissioners delivered a rare unanimous vote in favor of cancelling a Friday public hearing and their final meeting on Oct. 25, when maps are officially due.

“This is not the optimal way to do things, but it is a path forward,” Babichenko said. “I mean, the other option is just not moving forward.”

Though the commission’s deadline is Monday, they have a built-in two-week extension to complete their work. According to the current plan, the co-chairs will only schedule further public meetings if a map comes out of closed-door discussions.

Patrick Larsen is VPM News' environment and energy reporter, and fill-in host.
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