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Redistricting in Virginia

The Virginia Redistricting Commission will not finish its work on the state’s legislative maps and will instead move on to drawing maps for the state’s congressional districts and hear guidance from counsel about next steps for a new map of the state’s 11 U.S. House districts.

The commission’s deadline to approve legislative maps for the General Assembly to consider was Monday and the commission can’t take votes virtually which ensures it will miss the deadline.

Friday’s meeting of the Virginia Redistricting Commission may have been the last one, as Democratic members stormed out of the meeting, denying the body a quorum.

The blow up by the Democratic members of the commission was predictable once the Republican members realized what they were doing. As the two sides were approaching a point to begin the horse trading required to reach compromise, the commission was jockeying for position.

Once a starting point was chosen, the work could move forward. Democrats recognized that and brought forward a surprise map that the public had not seen before, nor had any of the commissioners.

Republicans were taken aback by this map. Using this map as a starting point would have put Republicans at a significant disadvantage. It would have taken several concessions from Democrats to make the map even as fair as the map that they had introduced earlier. It’s clear that this was an attempt to give themselves an advantage.

Republicans, however, refused and insisted on using another map as a starting point. That left Democrats with only one option to preserve their effort; turn over the table by walking out, claiming Republicans refused to compromise.

Some commission members had left the door open for continuing to work on legislative maps. The commission had the option to trigger a 14-day extension, but no vote to that effect was ever taken. The commission has until Oct. 25 to finish its work on a new map of congressional districts.

The National School Board Association wrote to President Biden last week asking him to use the FBI and other agencies to monitor and prosecute those who made threats against school boards or even just those who have made boards feel uncomfortable.

From their letter: Specifically, NSBA asks that the U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Secret Service and its National Threat Assessment Center focus their expertise and resources on the level of risk to public schoolchildren, educators, board members, facilities and campuses.

“NSBA also requests that the U.S. Postal Inspection Service intervene against threatening letters and cyberbullying attacks that have been transmitted to students, school board members, district administrators and other educators.”

NSBA asked the feds to “examine appropriate enforceable actions against these crimes and acts of violence under the Gun-Free School Zones Act, the PATRIOT Act in regard to domestic terrorism.”

Said simply, parents making school board members uncomfortable are domestic terrorists and should be treated as such.

Meanwhile, the Virginia School Board Association put out a statement making it clear that not only do they welcome input for parents, but they also disagree with the letter sent to President Biden by their national counterparts.

“VSBA and its 132 local school division members recognize the vital role parents play in the education of their children and within the school community.”

“While the Virginia School Boards Association (VSBA) is currently a member of NSBA, it was not consulted about this letter, did not provide information to NSBA and was not informed that the letter was being sent.

“The decision by NSBA to write this letter is not the first disagreement that VSBA has had with its national association and probably will not be the last, but it is important that our members and the citizens of this state know where VSBA stands.”

No one condones threats or violence of any kind. But angry parents have a right to speak to their school board members, and it’s wrong to call in the FBI to attempt to cow parents into silence.

I have compiled a list of important dates pertaining to the November Elections. Early voting began Sept. 17 and ends Oct. 30. Oct. 12 is the deadline to register to vote or update existing registration. Oct. 22 is the deadline to request an absentee ballot be mailed to you. Must be received in registrar’s office by 5 p.m.

There are five early voting locations in the 59th District, located at your counties registrar’s office.

Albemarle County Registrar’s Office is located at 1600 Fifth St., Ext, Charlottesville, VA 22902. Operating hours are 8:30a .m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and their phone number is (434) 972- 4173. Appomattox County Registrar’s Office is located at 367 Virginia Avenue, Appomattox, VA 24522. Operating hours are 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and their phone number is (434) 352-5302. Buckingham County Registrar’s Office is located at 13360 W James Anderson Hwy, Buckingham, VA 23921. Operating hours are 8:30 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and their phone number is (434) 969-4304. Campbell County Registrar’s Office is located at 774 Village Highway, Rustburg, VA 24588. Operating hours are 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and their phone number is (434) 332-9579. Nelson County Registrar’s Office is located at 571 Front St., Lovingston, VA 22949. Operating hours are 9 a.m. -5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and their phone number is (434) 263-7190.

You can also visit https:// vote.elections.virginia.gov/ VoterInformation to register, check your registration status, find your polling location and apply to vote absentee.

DEL. C. MATTHEW FARISS represents Buckingham in the Virginia House of Delegates. His email address is DelMFariss@house.virginia.gov.