(Here is a bit of an update of the status of many efforts to address redistricting/gerrymandering. Thank you Brian Cannon for helping to keep us informed.)
Late last week I wrote you with a good deal of confusion about what was happening in our legislature. We had some success but a lot of 7-7 votes that killed bills. However, there is reason to hope right now for SB106 is likely to be amended tomorrow (Monday) on the Senate floor and we are hoping for some progress on that front. Watch Facebook and Twitter for the fastest updates on that.
This week has some question marks about it as well. It’s possible that all of our bills in the House will be up Tuesday morning at 7:30AM in the House Privileges & Elections Subcommittee #1. It’s also possible that a great bill by Delegate Ward, HB312, that would allow for public hearings around Virginia will go to the House Rules Committee on Friday late morning. So I have a big ask of you…
BIG ASK: I want to pack BOTH of these committees with supporters of this movement. So if you think you can come – or just want to stay updated on it just in case you can – let me know by filling out this quickie form. It’ll keep my emails targeted to those who really want to know. If you sign up, then we will tell you as soon as we know that the bills are up and provide details about getting to the meeting in time to have your presence make a difference. We will also have Facebook and Twitter updates on this.
Can’t Make It? That’s okay, it’s not easy to get to Richmond all the time for early morning meetings. But you can still take action and TELL YOUR SENATOR right now via email how much you care about this issue. Click here to take action!
Thank you everyone for your support!
The above is the most important info that I needed to get to you. Below my signature are the misc things I want to tell you about.
Lobby Days: It’s important that you stay tuned for action alerts and come to lobby days if you can make it to Richmond. We need you here because the loudest voices are often the only ones who get heard in this environment.
We have gotten all this way because of the accumulation of small acts like sharing this post. If you don’t have Facebook, forward this email and ask your friend to sign the petition to end gerrymandering now at www.onevirginia2021.org/petition.
Because so many folks did this in the past few days, we gained almost 500 new supporters! Don’t stop now…keep going!
North Carolina: Many of you have asked me about what’s going on in North Carolina. Whew, it’s a lot to explain. The big news is the federal three judge panel struck down their congressional lines as a partisan gerrymander. Then SCOTUS stepped in and issued a stay to the remedy phase of the panel’s order. This does not mean SCOTUS disagrees with the anti-gerrymandering ruling. It is fairly standard to stop that if they’re going to review it (maybe in conjunction with the Wisconsin and Maryland gerrymandering cases). Partisan gerrymandering’s days look numbered. But don’t be discouraged by SCOTUS’ stay order.
Virginia Cases: Yes, we have two cases pending in Virginia. Bethune-Hill might come down at any moment. Any moment. I’m anxiously awaiting this. You’ll see a great deal of action in the General Assembly if the federal three judge panel strikes down House of Delegates districts (there are 11 at issue in the case). Also, our compactness case goes to the Supreme Court of Virginia the week of February 26th. Stay tuned because the legal ride isn’t over yet.
Minority Representation: There were a few heated comments in the Senate P&E meeting last week regarding minority representation under the status quo system vs. an improved redistricting system. I want to address how I see this issue because minority communities get caught up in these gerrymandering battles all too often and suffer lack of representation because of it.
The current redistricting system we have in Virginia has kept minorities under-represented in our districts, both congressional and the General Assembly. The best example of this is the fact that ~20% of Virginia is African American, yet for the longest time Virginia only had one African American congressman. When the federal courts stuck down the district as a racial gerrymander and redrew the lines according to good-government principles, there was clearly a second district that had a large number of African Americans. Now our congressional delegation is 18% African American (2/11) – much closer to what it should be on any given random draw of the map.
For the Virginia General Assembly, before November, the percentage of African Americans in office was 12.5%. After the incredibly diverse wave of new Delegates into the system this November, that number jumped only to 13.5%. Still a huge distance from 20%. Some of this is a result of natural clustering (people live near people who look like them, plus the nasty legacy of red-lining neighborhoods). But the lessons learned from the congressional redraw should tell us that it also has to do with gerrymandering.
We believe fair maps will represent all Virginians better and in the proportion in which they should be represented, without artificial manipulation by politicians simply trying to get re-elected. This idea applies beyond race, but also to political persuasion. Gerrymandering perpetuates an outdated status quo that doesn’t accurately reflect Virginia. If we believe in a representative government, then the manipulation of our voting districts to protect incumbents is an anathema to that ideal.
Mis-Assigned Voters: Remember those mis-assigned voters all over Virginia? Yeah, that’s scary. It’s a direct result of gerrymandering. One of our supporters had a great LTE in the Washington Post that’s worth passing along. Thanks, Scott!!!
Baby News (non-redistricting): Both Aaron and Liz from our staff are expecting little bundles of joy coming very soon. We don’t have any specific updates, but I know many of you are praying for a safe delivery of Aaron’s son and Liz’s daughter. Thank you for those! We’ll update you (via Facebook most likely) when appropriate. We are excited!!!
Thanks for making it all the way down this far! Let me know what other questions you might have that I can help answer or address going forward. Thank you for your support and your action!