In 2019 and 2020, the Virginia General Assembly passed a bipartisan constitutional amendment proposal that will create Virginia’s first redistricting commission if it is approved by voters. This is the most comprehensive redistricting reform to ever pass a state legislature.
Virginia’s current redistricting process is broken. Politicians can pick their voters without any oversight, transparency or citizen involvement.
This amendment will change the unfair redistricting laws of the past, but how does the commission work?
- First, the bipartisan commission is led by a citizen serving as chair. There’s an old saying: if you’re not at the table, you’re probably on the menu.
- Second, they will also have clear rules to follow – things like following city and county boundaries and protecting against anything that diminishes minority voting power.
- Next, provisions in the amendment prohibit the legislature and the Governor from amending the commission’s map. No cherry-picking allowed!
- While drawing the maps, a supermajority of the commission’s members are required to approve the final map, meaning political parties will be prohibited from colluding against one another. In other words, this amendment will ban partisan gerrymandering in Virginia.
- Finally, all of the commission’s meetings and data will be completely open to the public. No more funny business and backroom deals behind the scenes.
This amendment ends partisan gerrymandering and gives us fair, transparent maps.
By voting to support the amendment, Virginians will finally create a fair and inclusive process that will replace our outdated and discriminatory laws. This will ensure that legislative district lines are drawn fairly and do not favor one party over the other.
Politicians will no longer have free rein to choose whoever they want to represent. It’s time to put people over politicians by including citizens in the process for the first time, and having a citizen serve as chair of the commission itself.
Historic voting rights protections for minority communities will be added to the Virginia Constitution for the first time. In fact, Justin Levitt, a former Obama administration Justice Department official said that the "amendment requires adherence to the Voting Rights Act … and then goes beyond.""
Instead of shady backroom deals, the new system will be completely transparent to voters and watchdogs. Public meetings will be held across Virginia, with all data and notes from the meetings being completely open to the public