Redistricting

  The Constitutional Amendment Here is the text of the amendment as passed.  ARTICLE II FRANCHISE AND OFFICERS Section 6. Apportionment. Members of the House of Representatives of the United States and members of the Senate and of the House of Delegates of the General Assembly shall be elected from electoral districts established by the General Assembly pursuant to Section

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Redistricting in Virginia

Upcoming Meetings of the Virginia Redistricting Commission Full Commission–4 p.m. Tuesday August 3 Pocahontas Building, Richmond (in person) Click here to view the livestream of meetings or view recordings of past meetings. The livestream link is found by clicking on the Agenda for each meeting.  Commission Schedule for Pre-Map-Drawing Public Hearings  In-Person Hearings Northern Region: Tuesday July 27 @ 4

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Redistricting Commission Overview

Redistricting Commission On November 3, 2020, Virginia voters passed a Constitutional Amendment establishing a Redistricting Commission of citizens and legislators, led by a citizen chair. This Redistricting Commission will draw Virginia’s election district maps instead of the full General Assembly. This commission will be bipartisan. At least one study of redistricting outcomes in all 50 states has found that “both

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Redistricting FAQ

Why LWV-VA Supports Constitutional Amendment S.J. 18 to End Partisan Gerrymandering 

What is independent redistricting and why is it needed? Redistricting is the process of drawing maps to determine election districts for members of Congress and the state legislature. In many states, the legislature wields the power to draw these maps. When one party controls this process, it can rig the maps to stay in power by choosing the electorate in each district (“gerrymandering”). 

Gerrymandering weakens voters’ voices. It carves up communities, removes competition, increases polarization, and creates gridlock. Redistricting works better when voters get more of a say. 

Why Virginia needs a Constitutional Amendment now for fair redistricting. Virginia’s election maps are gerrymandered. Virginia’s constitution gives only legislators the power to draw the election maps. Only a constitutional amendment can change the constitution and let citizens serve on a redistricting commission. A mere law (legislation) cannot amend the constitution. 

Last year, after extensive negotiation, Virginia’s legislature passed a constitutional amendment (“CA”) to establish a better way: a commission of 8 legislators and 8 citizens, with a citizen chair. 

Timing is critical. Redistricting in Virginia usually occurs only once every ten years. In order to enact the amendment before the next ten-year redistricting in early 2021, the constitutional amendment must pass again this legislative session and then go before voters on the ballot in November. 

Why the League of Women Voters of Virginia supports the Constitutional Amendment, SJ 18 / HJ 71

  • The Amendment gives citizens a voice in the Virginia redistricting process for the first time. Protectionist maps help legislators keep their seats. Citizens don’t have that conflict of interest. 
  • The Amendment for the first time requires that lines be drawn in accordance with specific “laws that address racial and ethnic fairness,” avoiding harm to our communities and Virginia. 
  • Redistricting decisions will be brought into the light, not hidden away in dark, secret backrooms. 

What do the accompanying bills do? 

  • Senate bill 203 creates criteria for drawing maps, such as ensuring the votes of racial or language minorities are not diluted, preserving communities of interest, and avoiding lines that favor parties or politicians or divide towns. 
  • Senate bill 204 directs the Court to appoint a citizen “special master” to assist in redistricting. 

Shouldn’t we try for a better commission, without legislators? This is the only amendment available to be passed this year, before the decennial redistricting and the next House election. We need to pass it while the window of opportunity is open. 

Should voters be concerned about Virginia’s Supreme Court? Accompanying legislation (SB204) requires the court to appoint a citizen special master to draw the maps. Virginia’s justices are bound by canons of judicial ethics and were appointed by Democrat, as well as Republican, controlled legislative chambers. 

Who supports S.J. 18? Respected voices include the Brennan Center for Justice, Common Cause, Senator Tim Kaine and Rep. Don Beyer, and the editorial boards of the Richmond Times-Daily and the Virginian-Pilot. Importantly, 70% of Virginians support redistricting reform, according to a recent poll by the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University in Virginia. 

The eyes of the nation are on Virginia. Without the constitutional amendment, the very next statehouse election, in 2021, could bring in a legislature that would reverse any mere laws. An amendment is the only vehicle strong enough to start real change and ensure fair elections. 

The League of Women Voters of Virginia stands up for voters. 

The League fully supports SJ 18 and HJ 71. 

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Jan 12, 2020 Action Alert: Fair Redistricting, No Excuse Absentee Voting, & Gun Violence Prevention

Virginia’s legislative session is underway! Contact your lawmakers now to support fair redistricting, no excuse absentee voting, and gun violence prevention. You can modify your message before sending.

To review the bills: 

🔸 Fair redistricting        SJ 18, SB 203, 204 / HJ 71, HB 758

🔸 No excuse absentee voting  SB 45, 111, 879 / HB 1, 25, 27

🔸 Gun violence prevention     SB 70 , 240 / HB 2, 674

For more info: 

🔸 Redistricting

🔸 No Excuse Absentee Voting, p.4 

🔸 Gun Violence Prevention

Alternatively, visit whosmy.virginiageneralassembly.gov for your lawmaker’s contact information and then email them a request to support these bills. Let them know you are a constituent, and your address. You can note points such as:

🔸 The fair redistricting amendment, SJ18 / HJ71, will finally give citizens a voice and add racial and ethnic fairness. 

– The guardrail bills, SB 203 & 204 / HB 758, make it even stronger. 

– Only an amendment can change the constitution. A law doesn’t have that power.

🔸 Voting is every citizen’s honor and responsibility. Being required to state an excuse for absentee voting deters voters. Please copatron and vote for no excuse absentee voting bills SB 45, 111, 859, 879 / HB 1, HB 25, HB 27.

🔸 We need common sense gun safety. Please especially cosponsor and vote for SB 70 / HB 2, for universal background checks, and SB240 / HB 674, extreme risk protection order / red flag legislation.

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Dec 30, 2019 Contact Your Legislators: Support Fair Redistricting

Now is the time to add your voice for the Equal Rights Amendment.

The League of Women Voters of the U.S. supports the Equal Rights Amendment (“ERA”), as set forth in this letter.

Please contact your lawmakers now for the ERA.

🔸 Virginia legislation: HJ 1, SJ 1, & SJ 5

🔸 Questions? See the U.S. League letter

🔸 Newly elected legislator? See “Special Cases” below

🔸 All others, click here to support the ERA

Alternatively, visit whosmy.virginiageneralassembly.gov for your lawmaker’s contact information and then email them a request to support the ERA this session. Let them know you are a constituent, and your address. You can point out:

  • Virginia General Assembly bills for ratification of the ERA are HJ 1 and SJ 1.
  • 80% of Virginia’s registered voters support ratification, according to a poll by the Wason Center for Public Policy, https://cnu.edu/wasoncenter/surveys/2019-12-16/
  • The U.S. Constitution does not guarantee equal rights without discrimination based on sex. The Equal Rights Amendment will help ensure that the government discriminates based on sex only when it has compelling reasons. As stated by the American Bar Association, this will “assure that gender equality is recognized as a fundamental, irrevocable right protected by the highest law of the land.”
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Dec 17, 2019 Contact Your Legislators: Support Fair Redistricting

Contact Your Legislators: Support Fair Redistricting 

 

Fair elections are under threat, and all of us are needed at this moment in history. Please contact your lawmakers to support the redistricting amendment. You can click through here to send them a message you can modify before sending. 

 

Alternatively, visit whosmy.virginiageneralassembly.gov for your lawmaker’s contact information. Then, email them a request to vote for the redistricting amendment this session. Let them know you are a constituent and your address. 

 

Talking points:

 

  • This amendment is the first time citizens will be on the redistricting commission. Only an amendment can change the constitutional provision that lawmakers (not citizens) draw districts. 

 

  • An amendment must be passed two years in a row, and this is the last chance to get one in place before 2021.

 

  • 70% of Virginians support the second passage of the redistricting reform amendment, according to a poll from the Wason Center for Public Policy, and Mason-Dixon Polling shows 72% of registered Virginia voters support the proposed amendment.
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Reapportionment and Redistricting

Current Activities Shining a Light- link currently unavailable.  This is a new report from the League of Women Voters of the United States providing a summary of Redistricting “lessons learned” and “kudos earned” during 2011. The League of Women Voters of the United States is requesting your comments on this document on their Facebook Page or at their Blog Shining

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Redistricting Archives

2015 Redistricting Reform Heats Up – To read LWV Fairfax’s October update of the latest Virginia lawsuits click here. Redistricting/Reapportionment: The Current Status – To read LWV Falls Church’s concise background information on the situation in Virginia click here. Redistricting Lawsuit Based Upon Virginia’s Constitution – To read the text of the suit, click here. Third Congressional District Comments Submitted

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ONLY TWO TESTIFY AT VIRTUAL HEARING FOR EASTERN REGION

The July 22 virtual hearing for the Eastern region was very brief with only two citizens testifying.  New commissioner Virginia Trost-Thornton provided a touch of excitement when she joined by phone at the end of the hearing.  Commission Co-chair Greta Harris, who was presiding, greeted her with “fantastic timing!” Sen. Steve Newman (R-Forest) mentioned, “Virginia may be only 29 but I’ve known her for 35 years.  She is extremely bright, has degrees in engineering and law, and is much involved in the community. The Commission has made a high-quality pick and you’ll enjoy getting to know her.” 

She was also “welcomed aboard” by Del. Marcus Simon (D-Falls Church) and citizen commissioners Brandon Hutchins of Virginia Beach and James Abrenio of Fairfax. (Nice touch of a dock and boat for Del. Simon’s virtual background for this Eastern region hearing.)

The two citizens that spoke, however, did not specifically address concerns of the Eastern Region which includes the Counties of Accomack, Essex, King & Queen, Lancaster, Middlesex, Northhampton, Northumberland, Richmond, and Westmoreland.  (Defined by the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service.)

Carl Anderson speaking via Zoom was actually from Hampton and echoed testimony from the July 20 in-person hearing held in Hampton asking for communities to be kept whole.  He urged the commission to “take one step forward and not split more than two cities, counties, or precincts in any district.”  He called for the Commission to get rid of all incumbent addresses and start from scratch.  Anderson further testified, “All of Hampton should be in one district. When my family moved to Hampton, we were told we were fortunate to have 3 congressmen.  I look at this differently.  We had no representation. We were at the tail end of 3 congressional districts with congressmen who had bigger fish to fry. “

Erin Corbett, Redistricting Coordinator for the Virginia Civic Engagement Table (VCET), brought to the attention of the Commissioners that “the virtual process for live comments is extremely confusing and overwhelming.”  She asked the Division of Legislative Services (DLS) to look into a better more user-friendly way to incorporate this type of feedback. 

In a break from normal meeting protocol, Co-chair Harris asked if Ms. Corbett could be more specific about the challenges.   Corbett replied, “Zoom allows for participants to be made into speakers or panelists so we are given an alert that we are about to be unmuted.  This needs to be done for the Commission hearings as I couldn’t see or hear the commission in any way.”

Harris acknowledged, “With the hybrid mode we have run into a few technical difficulties.  We appreciate feedback and will continuously try to improve.”  She added “at the hearing at Old Dominion University, we could hear in person but hearing virtual comments on live-streaming was difficult.”  Sen. Newman agreed, “We’ve heard some of the same things.  Is there a technical fix?”  DLS Director Amigo Wade responded “We will look into it today.  Should be straight forward.”  He also asked that individual commissioners who get comments forward the emails to DLS.  When Virginia Trost-Thornton spoke to the commissioners at the end of the meeting, she mentioned struggling to join in.  Harris commented “Your experience with getting on is another lesson.”

A third person who registered to testify did not sign in to speak. Harris mentioned the relatively small number of persons registered and encouraged citizens across the commonwealth to join them for future hearings.  The next hearing will be in-person, Tuesday, July 27 at 4 p.m. in Dewberry Hall at George Mason University. 

A second opportunity for residents of the Eastern region to specifically provide input to the Commission is tentatively set for September 20 after the maps are drawn.  Residents of that area could also speak at any of the other in-person or virtual hearings.  Full details are available on the Commission’s website.

 

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