What’s New: “Communities of Interest” Workshops
Mapping Communities of Interest (COI)
Communities of Interest (COI) are communities that deserve consideration as district lines are being drawn. In the past, COI have often had their voting rights suppressed through gerrymandering or other means of voter suppression. Several tools exist to help these groups and neighborhoods identify themselves on the map so that the Redistricting Commission can try to keep them intact as they draw district lines.
The tools enable COIs to identify what makes them a community and also to create a map file that can be submitted to the Redistricting Commission for consideration. The goal is to help citizens create as many community maps as possible–especially hard-to-count populations that might be overlooked in the redistricting process.
The League of Women Voters is sponsoring free training sessions to teach citizens how to create a map of their COI and submit it. Citizens can choose to learn how to use one or both of the tools.
Representable Training: Tuesday January 12 at 7 pm or Wednesday January 13 at 4 pm.
Districtr Training: Thursday January 14 at 7 pm or Friday January 15 at 12pm.
The New Bipartisan Redistricting Commission
On November 3, 2020, Virginia voters approved a new amendment to the State Constitution that will change the way the Commonwealth does its biennial redistricting. The League of Women Voters of Virginia supported the amendment as a positive reform designed to bring to an end partisan gerrymandering.
The amendment created a new 16-member, bipartisan commission, made up of eight legislators and eight citizens. The citizen members were chosen on January 7, 2021, by a committee of five retired state circuit court judges. More than 1,200 Virginians completed applications to serve on the commission, and the General Assembly’s four legislative leaders each submitted the names of at least 16 persons from which the justices made their appointments. The legislator members were previously appointed by the General Assembly’s four leaders. The chair will be chosen from among the citizen members at the commission’s first meeting, on or before February 1, 2021. For additional details about the commission’s citizen members, click here.
Nominated/Appointed by Senate President Pro Tempore Louise Lucas, D-Portsmouth:
- James Abrenio of Fairfax
- Sean S. Kumar of Alexandria
- Sen. Mamie Locke of Hampton
- Sen. George Barker of Fairfax
Nominated/Appointed by House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn, D-Fairfax:
- Brandon Christopher Hutchins of Virginia Beach
- Greta J. Harris of Richmond
- Delegate Marcus Simon of Falls Church
- Delegate Delores McQuinn of Richmond
Nominated/Appointed by Senate Minority Leader Tommy Norment, R-James City:
- Marvin W. Gilliam Jr. of Bristol
- Richard O. Harrell III of South Boston
- Sen. Steve Newman of Lynchburg
- Sen. Ryan McDougle of Hanover
Nominated/Appointed by House Minority Leader Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah:
- Jose A. Feliciano Jr. of Fredericksburg
- Mackenzie K. Babichenko of Mechanicsville
- Del. Les Adams of Chatham
- Del. Margaret Ransone of Westmoreland
Here is a summary of the new amendment.
What’s Wrong with Redistricting in Virginia?
Virginia’s election maps and the boundaries between districts have historically been drawn by the General Assembly, our state legislators whose careers can rise or fall based on where the lines end up. Politicians can use these maps to dilute voters’ power. Short Video.
The League of Women Voters of Virginia first formally studied redistricting in 1983 in order to form a position from which to advocate. However, archival materials housed at the Library of Virginia indicate an interest as far back as 1952. Our current position was updated in 2007.
Gerrymandering runs counter to equal voting rights for all eligible voters. It can amount to illegal voter suppression, as some communities gain disproportionate representation and others lose the ability to elect candidates of their choice.
The League of Women Voters opposes partisan and racial gerrymandering. The League supports publicly transparent processes and supports processes designed to improve fair representation.
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