LPNOVA Endorses Amendment 1 for Redistricting Reform

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, October 19, 2020 – LPNOVA supports voting ‘YES’ on the redistricting commission amendment (Question 1 on the November 2020 ballot).  The current redistricting system allows the party that has control of the state legislature and governor’s office to gerrymander legislative districts in a way that advantages their party and diminishes the political power of any opposition.  The proposed constitutional amendment creates a truly bipartisan commission which must compromise to come up with a redistricting plan that can get the 12/16 supermajority required to pass.  Though we would prefer that redistricting be NON-partisan rather than BI-partisan, it’s much better to force the Republicans and Democrats to come up with a compromise plan, rather than let one party have complete control.  Some, including the Virginia Democratic Party who supported this amendment before they gained full control of the state government, say that this plan isn’t perfect, and so it should be voted down.  But new districts will be drawn for 2021 that will be in place for 10 years.  This important reform must take effect before districts are redrawn. 

Summary of the redistricting amendment

  • Currently, congressional and state legislative districts are voted on by the state legislature through the normal legislative process and the governor has veto power.
  • Under the proposed constitutional amendment:
    • Districts are drawn by 16 commissioners selected by the following process:
      • Four are legislators of the majority (currently Democratic) party
      • Four are legislators of the minority (currently Republican) party
      • Four are citizens from a list created by the majority party and selected from that list by a group of retired judges
      • Four are citizens from a list created by the minority party and selected from that list by a group of retired judges
      • The retired judges who select the citizen commissioners are selected from a list compiled by the supreme court- two judges are elected by the majority party and two by the minority party
    • All meetings, records, and documents of the redistricting commission are public record.  They must have at least three hearings where they take public comments.
    • There are some fairly complex rules around the number of votes needed for the commission to propose a redistricting plan to the legislature, but in all cases, it requires at least 12/16 to vote for a plan.
    • The legislature votes on whether to approve the redistricting plan.  They aren’t allowed to make any changes and the governor has no veto power.
    • If the legislature twice rejects the redistricting commission’s plan, or if the commission fails to come up with a plan, the Virginia Supreme Court has responsibility for drawing districts