We believe that amending the constitution is the only way to clarify a partisan legislature’s role in redistricting. The current method for drawing new districts (which happens every ten years after a census) is outlined inArticle II, Section 6 of the current Virginia Constitution: “electoral districts (are) established by the General Assembly.” However, there are many limitations of the current system.
This ballot initiative on the November 2020 ballot would amend this Article of the Constitution of Virginia to take the sole power away from the legislature, which usually (because of political party majorities) has an incentive to redraw the lines in favor of one political party or the other. 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 unanimously approved a simplified explanation for voters that need extra guidance. It reads:
A “yes” vote supports transferring the power to draw the state’s congressional and legislative districts from the state legislature to a redistricting commission composed of state legislators and citizens.
A “no” vote opposes transferring the power to draw the state’s congressional and legislative districts to a redistricting commission, thus keeping the state legislature responsible for redistricting.
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 will be in place to legally require them to change the status quo in 2021.