While Virginia State Senator Henry Marsh, a 79 year old African-American civil rights advocate and a Democrat, was out of the state attending President Barack Obama’s inaugural ceremonies, Virginia’s Republican legislators seized the opportunity afforded by his absence to rush through a vote on a new Congressional redistricting map that maximizes the number of seats safe for Republicans. Virginia’s legislature is evenly split with 20 Republican members and 20 Democratic members, but while Marsh was out of town, there were 20 Republicans and 19 Democrats present to vote. Republicans seized upon that short window of time when they had a voting advantage to take a vote on the redistricting measure. It passed by a single vote, 19-20 with 19 Democrats voting against it, and handed an electoral advantage to Republicans. Virginia Democrats said they would challenge the measure in court.
Main Source: Talking Points Memo, January 21, 2013