Amending the constitution is the only way to clarify a partisan legislature’s role in redistricting. Article II, Section 6 of the Virginia Constitution is crystal clear: “electoral districts (are) established by the General Assembly.”
This ballot initiative would amend this Article of the Constitution of Virginia to take the sole power away from the legislature. Here’s what the ballot measure says:
Should the Constitution of Virginia be amended to establish a redistricting commission, consisting of eight members of the General Assembly and eight citizens of the Commonwealth, that is responsible for drawing the congressional and state legislative districts that will be subsequently voted on, but not changed by, the General Assembly and enacted without the Governor’s involvement and to give the responsibility of drawing districts to the Supreme Court of Virginia if the redistricting commission fails to draw districts or the General Assembly fails to enact districts by certain deadlines?
The Senate of Virginia’s Privileges and Elections Committee recently approved a simplified explanation for voters that need extra guidance. It reads:
A “yes” vote will make a bipartisan commission responsible for the initial drawing of election districts.
A “no” vote will leave the sole responsibility for drawing the districts with the General Assembly and the Governor.
In other words, if the amendment fails, Virginia’s unfair redistricting laws remain in place. Politicians will continue to have free rein to pick their voters behind closed doors, regardless of which party is in charge. Nothing can legally require them to change the status quo in 2021.
See the language on the ballot from the Virginia State Board of Elections here.
By voting to support the amendment, Virginians will finally create a fair and inclusive process that will replace our outdated and discriminatory laws.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