The Virginia Legislature is one step away from sending a proposed Constitutional amendment to the voters in November. The redistricting reform measure was passed by the previous Legislature in 2019, and passed by the Senate last month, with strong bipartisan support. It was reported favorably by the House Committee earlier this week, but has not yet received a floor vote. Yesterday, an amendment in the nature of a substitute was proposed. If the House of Delegates does not pass the measure before adjourning this week, the proposed amendment will not go to voters.
Statement by National Redistricting Director Kathay Feng
The House of Delegates should reject the substitute and pass the original SJ18 today.
Virginians deserve to vote in fair districts starting in 2021 and beyond. We are at an historic moment – the House of Delegates can continue to seek partisan advantage in the redistricting process, or they can allow Virginians to vote in November to reform the process, give everyday Virginians a seat at the redistricting table, and provide meaningful opportunities for public input.
Adopting the substitute will set redistricting reform back by years. Constitutional amendments must be passed in two legislative sessions separated by an election and then sent to the voters for a referendum. If the substitute were to be adopted, Virginia voters would be required to vote in gerrymandered districts for at least the next decade. Legislators drawing their own districts is an inherent conflict of interest – like foxes guarding a henhouse. Virginians deserve better.
There is no such thing as a perfect reform, but SJ18 as passed last session and by the Senate last month is a huge step toward transparent and inclusive democracy as it should be in Virginia. We urge the House of Delegates to give Virginia voters a chance to vote on the reform by rejecting the substitute and passing the original SJ 18.