On behalf of a coalition of 11 nonpartisan groups who advocate for a better democracy, Campaign Legal Center (CLC) sent a letter to the leadership in the Virginia House of Delegates, urging state lawmakers to put principle over party and move past its history of gerrymandering. By passing the fair maps constitutional amendment now being considered in the Virginia General Assembly and pairing it with strong enabling legislation, state representatives can ensure that voters are able to choose their politicians under fair maps.
As CLC’s Paul Smith and the ACLU of Virginia’s Claire Gastañaga explained in a recent op-ed in The Roanoke Times, Virginia has long been plagued by partisan and racial gerrymandering. The current legislative session is the best chance to seize on the public’s desire for reform and give Virginians the opportunity to vote to amend the constitution this fall.
Voters nationwide overwhelmingly support redistricting reform. A 2019 national poll commissioned by CLC found strong opposition to gerrymandering with broad, bipartisan support for the creation of independent redistricting commissions. In fact, 65% of voters surveyed would prefer congressional districts with no partisan bias, even if it meant fewer seats for their own party.
Virginians are in line with this national trend. A December 2019 survey shows that Virginia voters strongly support the second passage of the redistricting reform constitutional amendment, by a 70%-15% margin.
The proposed amendment creates a “hybrid commission” of 16 members, comprised of eight legislators and eight citizens, evenly balanced by party affiliation. There are added protections for racial and ethnic communities, and the system will be opened up to increased public input and transparency.
This setup will make it more difficult for politicians to manipulate voting maps to hold onto power.
Below is the list of groups that signed on to the letter:
- Campaign Legal Center
- ACLU of Virginia
- Arnold Ventures
- Fair Elections Project
- League of Women Voters of the United States
- League of Women Voters of Virginia
- One Virginia 2021
- The Redistrict Network
- Unite America
- Voters Not Politicians