Consolidates the power of a few politicians to draw maps and does not ban gerrymandering
This election, Virginia voters will choose who has the power to draw political district boundaries in the commonwealth. Redistricting only happens every 10 years, so it is important that we get it right.
Because I know that Virginians should be able to choose their representatives through a fair election process based on equitable maps drawn by an independent and non-partisan redistricting commission, I am voting “No” on Amendment 1.
The way districts are drawn directly impacts the composition of legislative bodies such as the General Assembly and impacts how policies are made for the residents living under them. The current process needs reform, but we must have redistricting reform that empowers voters to choose their elected officials, not the other way around. Further, true reform must include proactive, affirmative protections for communities of color in the map-drawing process.
I remain committed to passing much needed reforms, but the flawed amendment on our ballots this year is not that. We must vote our conscience, but we also need to know what exactly the amendment would do.
Amendment 1 consolidates the power of a handful of politicians to draw maps, has no guarantee of minority representation in the map-drawing process, and does not ban gerrymandering. This amendment is not only imperfect, it puts us in a worse position than the 2020 status quo.
Amendment 1 would establish a 16-member commission — eight legislators and eight citizens — to draw the lines for congressional, state Senate, and state House districts. That sounds like reform until you look more closely. The legislators would be four Republicans and four Democrats chosen by their party leaders. Here’s the big problem: The party leaders who choose the eight legislative members also handpick the list of citizen candidates for the commission. Then five retired judges pick the eight candidates from the supplied lists. This is the opposite of an independent, non-partisan commission.
Clearly, partisan leaders would pick citizens from their own parties who would support their agendas. There is no place here for third parties, further entrenching us in a twoparty system, and taking away power from the people. This amendment does not create a citizenled commission, but rather a hyper-partisan commission that will benefit the elite few already in power to work to keep their power.
The proposed constitutional amendment makes no provision for diversity on the commission and lacks meaningful protections for voters of color. The past few years have shown us how important it is to respect and protect the voices of Black communities. Twice, district lines drawn by the Virginia legislature were invalidated by the courts as unconstitutionally racially discriminatory.
By isolating Black voters
Del. Marcia “Cia” Price into districts by ourselves, our voices were intentionally diluted and our voting-power diminished. Representation for Black voters cannot be pushed aside as it is in Amendment 1. Rather, it should be enshrined in our constitution as a critical component of a fair redistricting process.
Voters across the country are watching Virginia this year to see what we can make of the historic opportunity on our doorstep. Can we truly be a beacon of hope for progress and equity for the nation? Will we set a model for the South, and for the nation, on how to tackle the legacy of racism and build a stronger, more equitable future for all of us?
We can do better, and we have options.
Let’s vote no on Amendment 1, support a truly independent civilian advisory commission, move forward with drawing maps in a transparent way under the new law provided by House Bill 1255 that makes gerrymandering illegal, and in 2021 pass a constitutional amendment that includes protections for communities of color, mandates diversity on the commission, bans gerrymandering, increases transparency, and is citizen-led with no legislators.
I urge you to vote “No” on this year’s Amendment 1 and not put in our Constitution an amendment that would keep politicians choosing their voters and leave some communities behind.
Del. Marcia “Cia” Price