Virginia’s efforts to make the redistricting of election districts less partisan would have been more effective with less involvement from elected officials, says a Virginia Tech political expert.

“Although the Virginia commission was evenly split between legislators and citizens, it seems like the legislators, with both greater experience and personal investment in the outcome, were able to dominate the discourse on the committee, leading to the commission to become just as partisan as the legislature itself,” said Nick Goedert, an assistant professor of political science, working on a broad research agenda related to legislative elections and American politics.

 “I think this shows that commissions are much more likely to be successful when they completely remove the involvement of legislators, like the redistricting commission in California does.”

The commission of eight Democratic and eight Republican appointees had already given up trying to re-draw maps for the General Assembly, but there had been hope compromise could be reached on congressional districts.

Nicholas Goedert is an assistant professor of political science, working on a broad research agenda related to legislative elections and American politics.  His research has been published in journals including the American Journal of Political Science, State Politics and Policy Quarterly, Election Law Journal, and Research and Politics.   A new book, on the interaction of gerrymanders and electoral conditions or partisan tides titled “Ground War: Courts, Commissions, and the Fight over Partisan Gerrymanders” will be published by Oxford University Press this coming February.  He served as an expert witness in the Wisconsin redistricting case Whitford v. Gill (adjudicated by the U.S. Supreme Court during summer 2018), and has also served as a consultant for the advocacy group FairVote and the Pennsylvania state legislature on election structure issues.  He holds a Ph.D. in Politics from Princeton University and a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center. 

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To schedule an interview with Nick Goedert, contact Bill Foy by email, or by phone at 540-998-0288.

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