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IN VIRGINIA, POLITICIANS GET TO PICK THEIR OWN VOTERS. IT SHOULD BE THE OTHER WAY AROUND.

 

Gerrymandering - the deliberate manipulation of legislative district lines to benefit a party or individual - is toxic:

  • carves up communities
  • removes competition
  • allows for personal retribution
  • eliminates moderate influences
  • creates partisan gridlock

 

It is an obvious conflict of interest for the legislature to draw its own district lines. Both parties have participated in this practice for centuries - the party in charge always wants to stay in charge. Ending gerrymandering isn’t about right vs. left - it’s about right vs. wrong. 

OneVirginia2021 is a non-partisan leader in advocating for fair redistricting in Virginia. We organize through local, regional, and statewide efforts and we need your support and participation. OneVirginia2021 partners with individuals and organizations to raise awareness and works with legislators to implement meaningful reform.

PASS A CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT

The only way to get real, lasting reform in Virginia is to amend the State Constitution to take the redistricting process out of the hands of the legislature.  In February, 2019, the General Assembly passed the "first read" of an amendment that would establish the first ever Virginia Redistricting Commission:

  • made up of eight legislators and eight citizens with a citizen chairperson
  • selected by retired judges from lists provided by both parties in both chambers of the General Assembly
  • maps require the votes of six  legislators and six citizens to pass
  • the legislature gets an up-or-down vote but not the ability to amend.
  • every step of the proceedings would be open to the public

Download an infographic explaining the commission here.

Read the full text of the amendment here.

What does a complete redistricting reform package look like?

Major Endorsements (pdf)!

WHAT'S NEXT?

1. PASS IT AGAIN

We have to pass this amendment again in 2020 without changing so much as a comma in order to get it on the ballot. With the partisan balance in the General Assembly uncertain pending the November 2019 elections, we can't take it for granted that a legislator's support in 2019 will translate to support in 2020. We've got work to do.

2. MAKE IT BETTER

So, what else can we add to make the amendment better?

The answer: additional legislation to improve the criteria surrounding the commission before new districts are drawn. This includes:

Commission Members and Selection

  • Citizen and legislative members should be representative of the diversity of the Commonwealth -- including, but not limited to racial, ethnic, geographic and gender diversity
  • Citizen members must be properly qualified and thoroughly vetted for conflicts
  • Selection process should be done equitably by a diverse committee of retired judges

Mapping Criteria

  • Rules must be put in place to prohibit all forms of gerrymandering
  • No political data should be used, except to ensure racial or ethnic representation
  • Districts should have an equal population, be contiguous and compact, and respect racial equity, existing municipal boundaries and communities of interest

Community Engagement

  • Additional transparency provisions should be added, including an active real-time web presence and a prohibition on outside communications of commission members
  • All meetings should be as open as possible, complete with translators, adequate notice before meetings and a simple process for FOIA requests
  • Public input and attendance should also be statutorily encouraged, with multiple Congressional districtwide meetings and heavily publicized preliminary maps

Supreme Court of Virginia

  • In the unlikely event of a gridlocked commission, strong rules should be put in place to address the process from there, including how a qualified Special Master is appointed to draw the districts
  • Special Master must abide by the same legal requirements and criteria tasked to the commission
  • SCOVA should also be required to produce a detailed explanation of their methodology and all data that was used to draw their maps
  • Recusal of any justice that is a spouse or immediate relative of a member of Congress or General Assembly

3. TAKE IT TO THE VOTERS

Last but not least, we have to pass this as a ballot referendum in November 2020. Recent polling from the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University shows that 78% of Virginians support taking this process out of the hands of the legislature. This is a popular idea! We look forward to bringing this question directly to the voters.

See our fact sheet on the proposed constitutional amendment here.