- The Washington Times - Friday, June 17, 2011

The Department of Justice has approved Virginia’s newly redrawn House and Senate districts, meaning state primary elections in August and general elections in November will proceed as scheduled, Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II said Friday.

Mr. Cuccinelli said he received approval from the DOJ after submitting the plans last month.

“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,” Mr. Cuccinelli said.

The 1965 Voting Rights Act requires approval by either the Department of Justice or the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia of Virginia’s redistricting plan. The new districts reflect population shifts revealed in the national census taken last year.

They were object of strong partisan contention, as each party accused the other of gerrymandering districts during a special redistricting session. After Gov. Bob McDonnell vetoed the first plan sent to his desk, saying the Senate map wouldn’t pass muster with the DOJ, legislators gathered in Richmond a second time to pass a plan he finally approved.

Mr. McDonnell said Friday the process “was not easy,” but he complimented the bipartisan plan legislators settled on.

Mr. Cuccinelli and his staff obtained federal approval, and he congratulated all involved in the process.

“Credit goes to the members of the General Assembly for working diligently to draft a compliant redistricting plan as quickly as they did,” he said. “Credit also goes to Gov. 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.”

• Paige Winfield Cunningham can be reached at pcunningham@washingtontimes.com.

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