On March 6, 2020, the Virginia House of Delegates passed legislation to amend the state’s constitution and reform how new congressional and legislative election maps are drawn, limiting the ability of lawmakers to redraw maps for their own political advantage. It will now go before voters on the November General Election ballot.
Virginia has long been plagued by gerrymandering. By passing a constitutional amendment to create the Virginia Redistricting Commission, lawmakers are signaling that the state is ready to turn the page on the last decade’s gerrymandering wars – and embrace a redistricting process that works for voters, not politicians.
Legislators seized on the public’s desire for reform and proved that bipartisan long-term solutions are possible when principles are placed over partisanship.
Just before the vote, Campaign Legal Center (CLC) sent a letter to the leadership in the Virginia House of Delegates on behalf of a coalition of 11 nonpartisan groups who advocate for a better democracy.
The letter urged state lawmakers to pass the amendment with strong enabling legislation. CLC will continue to work closely with local partners at OneVirginia2021 to advocate for this solution and assist with public education efforts so voters understand the benefits of fair maps.
If approved by voters in the fall, the amendment will create 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.
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.