Thinking ahead after the election: Ending gerrymandering

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Court-ordered redrawn districts to end racial gerrymandering may have had a hand in Tuesday’s election results, and with Democrats flipping the Virginia House and Senate, there is a chance partisan gerrymandering may come to an end in the 2020 General Assembly.

The Virginia Redistricting Reform Amendment passed its first reading during the 2019 General Assembly session. Now it needs to be passed one more time in the 2020 General Assembly before going to the people who will then vote on it.

Advocacy group OneVirginia2021 has been fighting for the Virginia state Constitution to be amended since 2014. Jacqueline Salmon, the communications coordinator for the organization's Blue Ridge action group, said they want people, not politicians, to decide.

"For the first time in Virginia's history, citizens would be involved in drawing the legislative lines,” said Salmon.

She said this would make voting in Virginia better overall.

"What we want is a process that keeps communities together,” said Salmon. “That makes sure that voters have a real choice at the ballot box. And also what it would do is make sure that politicians have to appeal to all members of their communities and not just a particular base just to be elected. It would make elections much more competitive."

Salmon said they feel they can depend on Virginia’s freshly elected legislators to push the amendment through and end partisan gerrymandering of districts.

"We're really going to be looking to Senator Creigh Deeds and new House of Delegates member, Sally Hudson, for pushing this over the finish line," she said.

Deeds, who represents much of Central Virginia, agreed that no legislators, Democratic or Republican, should have a hand in redrawing the districts. He is confident the amendment will pass through its second reading.

"If we have a process that allows people to select their electives, you are more likely to have a process that the people trust,” said Deeds. “You're going to build more trust between the people and government, and I think things would work better."

OneVirginia2021's goal is for the amendment to be passed in time for the next redistricting in 2021 after the results of the 2020 Census.

For more information on how the amendment will end partisan gerrymandering, check the Related Links box for OneVirginia2021’s website.



 
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