Virginia House of Delegates should take final step and send Redistricting Commission Amendment to Voters
Virginia voters may soon have an opportunity to adopt redistricting reform.
The House of Delegates is voting this week on a proposed amendment to the state Constitution, which would create a bipartisan Redistricting Commission made up of both legislators and citizens.
The measure was passed by the Virginia General Assembly in 2019, passed again by the Senate last month, and reported favorably by the House Committee on Privileges and Elections earlier this week. Approval by the full House of Delegates is the last step needed before the proposed amendment is sent to voters.
Under the amendment, neither party would have a majority of seats on the Redistricting Commission and no map would be passed without votes from Democrats, Republicans, legislators and voters. The commission would be required to draw maps that comply with the US constitution and federal voting rights law and ensure the ability of racial or language communities to have equal opportunity to elect representatives of their choice. The commission would be required to hold public hearings both before and after drafting a map and to operate in sunlight.
Currently, legislators draw their own districts in a shadowy backroom process without clear districting criteria or meaningful public input. Recent redistricting cycles have produced a series of racial gerrymanders which have deprived minority communities of the ability to elect candidates of choice by packing and cracking them into districts to dilute their votes. Legislative leaders have used redistricting to protect incumbents, without regard to the needs of the communities that they are elected to serve.
Common Cause has added our name to other joint letters and has asked our members to contact their elected representatives in support of this reform.
We are also reaching out to each member of the House of Delegates, urging them to support meaningful redistricting reform in Virginia by voting YES on SJR 18, the redistricting reform constitutional amendment.