Get excited – there’s a big change coming to Virginia politics, and you can be a part of it when you vote this fall. Along with all the famous people on the ballot this fall, there is a new Virginia constitutional amendment for the state’s voters to consider. Two consecutive General Assemblies (first with a Republican majority, second with a Democrat majority) voted to approve this Virginia amendment, and final step to ratify is approval by a majority of voters.
Based on how both parties in Virginia have reacted to this amendment, at different times, it doesn’t favor either Democrats or Republicans – it is designed to be a brake on the runaway power of either party. It’s an opportunity for voters to cast a vote not for either party but for a system that prevents either party from making all the rules about who gets to be a representative in Richmond.
What the ballot will say:
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?
Our state has a history of highly partisan districts where legislators run unopposed for years or win over and over in non-competitive races. These districts happen because they are drawn when one party or the other is in power in the state legislature, and they want to preserve their power to keep getting more easy seats for their party. The redistricting amendment is a good faith effort by legislators to limit partisan gerrymandering. It means that future General Assemblies in Richmond will have less power to create voting districts that overwhelmingly favor one party or another; instead, it promotes creating more competitive election districts which limit extreme partisanship.
The Senate of Virginia unanimously approved a simplified explanation for voters that need extra guidance. It reads:
For more information, check out the advocacy of One Virginia 2021 and Fair Maps VA. You can print off this postcard in support of this amendment and send it to your friends anywhere in Virginia. Look at interactive maps of the current districts to get an idea of what is there now. Study the wording of the amendment before you start to vote your ballot this fall – like all constitutional amendments, the language isn’t necessarily easy to read, but you can spend some time with it beforehand so you’re prepared.