RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Another federal lawsuit hoping to force new Virginia House of Delegates elections this year has been filed by an author two days after a similar effort from a Democratic lawyer was dismissed.
The lawsuit from Jeff Thomas, who has written two books on Virginia politics and government, comes after a three-judge panel dismissed a lawsuit from Paul Goldman, the former chairman of the Virginia Democratic Party, that sought 2022 House elections.
Goldman’s lawsuit, which Thomas attempted to join but was prevented from by the federal court, alleged the 2021 House of Delegates elections were invalid because they were held under districts drawn using 2010 census data and that population variations between the new districts did not meet “one person, one vote” standards.
The panel — made up of U.S. District Judge David J. Novak, U.S. Circuit Judge Stephanie D. Thacker, and U.S. District Judge Raymond A. Jackson — ruled Goldman lacked legal standing as a voter and prospective candidate to bring the case forward. Goldman said he will appeal the decision to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
But the court noted that others, including Thomas, could potentially be found to have standing with a new lawsuit.
Novak wrote in the court’s opinion that Goldman’s argument for legal standing as a voter falls short because his home district was overrepresented due to it being underpopulated, meaning his vote was not diluted as a result.
Thomas argues in his lawsuit that his home district in the city of Richmond, District 71, is overpopulated and results in a 31% population deviation compared to the smallest House district. The lawsuit asserts the deviation violates the constitutional rights of Thomas and other residents in the 71st District.
“Without Court intervention, Defendants will continue to violate the rights of Plaintiff and 93,524 other underrepresented people in HD 71-2011 to equal protection, equal voting rights and equal political representation in the Virginia House of Delegates until new House of Delegates members are sworn in under constitutional lines in 2024,” Thomas’ lawsuit states.
But with Virginia’s congressional primaries set for June 21 and the midterms being on Nov. 8, the timeline for another round of Virginia House elections is dwindling. Thomas notes this in his lawsuit and requests that the court expedite the schedule of the case.
The Eastern District of Virginia has agreed to hold a status hearing on June 13.