By Brad Swanson:
The recent Supreme Court decision allowing Virginia legislative elections to go ahead this year under a map drawn by a court-appointed expert doesn’t solve the problem of gerrymandering. Only a state Constitutional amendment taking district-drawing power away from a partisan legislature can do it.
That is the view of OneVirginia2021, a non-partisan group dedicated to fair redistricting. Its executive director, Brian Cannon, will appear on July 2 in Chantilly to explain the amendment process, which actually began in February of this year with a first approval in the General Assembly.
The amendment would create a joint legislative-citizen commission to draw the electoral map. A majority of both legislators and citizens would need to approve maps, and the legislature would get an up-or-down vote but not the ability to amend. Details and an infographic are on the organization’s website.
The amendment received broad bipartisan support in its “first reading” in the legislative session earlier this year, and now goes for its “second reading” in the next session early next year. The final step to passage would be a statewide referendum in November 2020.
Cannon, whose group has support from both Democrats and Republicans, will hold a briefing on Tue. July 2 at 7:30 pm at Sully Governmental Center, 4900 Stonecroft Blvd, Chantilly. The event is a regular monthly meeting of the Sully District Democratic Committee. Members of the public are invited to come and hear Cannon at the opening of the meeting, and to stay afterwards if they like.
For the record, the Supreme Court on Mon. June 16 dismissed an appeal brought by the Republican-controlled House of Delegates against a lower court ruling that 11 House districts had been unfairly drawn along racial lines. The Supreme Court decision means that the maps drawn by a “special master” appointed by the U.S. District Court for Eastern Virginia will now be used for the upcoming state elections in November. Of course, if the amendment promoted by OneVirginia2021 had been in place, the partisan legislature could never have gerrymandered the districts in the first place.
Brad Swanson is the editor of The Blue View. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo: Brian Cannon calls for fair redistricting in Virginia on the steps of the Supreme Court