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Voting Rights Advocates Respond to House GOP’s Proposed Redistricting Constitutional Amendment

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From Progress VA:

Voting Rights Advocates Respond to House GOP’s Proposed Redistricting Constitutional Amendment

Richmond, VA—Voting rights advocates from New Virginia Majority and Progress Virginia today responded to a new proposed constitutional amendment from House Privileges and Elections Committee Chairman Mark Cole to change the way Virginia draws political district boundaries. While the new amendment to HJ615 would establish a bipartisan redistricting commission with equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans, it would also predetermine the partisan makeup of legislative districts and therefore the Virginia General Assembly. 

Unlike other proposals that ban the use of partisan political data altogether, the Cole amendment reads, in part, “Every effort possible shall be made to preserve the political parity between the two political parties receiving the highest and next highest number of votes in the immediately preceding gubernatorial election.” HJ615 was recommended out of subcommittee late this afternoon.

“The GOP’s proposal simply replaces one bad system with another,” said Progress Virginia executive director Anna Scholl. “Voters should choose their elected officials, not the other way around. But under this amendment, voters would lose the power of their vote because districts would be required to be drawn to create a certain number of blue districts and a certain number of red ones. Our democracy is strongest when we all have a say, not when decisions are made for us.”

“When it comes to redistricting, it’s not just who draws the lines, but the rules they have to follow that are incredibly important,” said New Virginia Majority co-executive director Tram Nguyen. “That’s why we’ve advocated so loudly for establishing criteria that protects communities of color and ensures everyone has an equal voice in our democracy. This amendment would take away voters’ voices by instead instituting a quota system for red and blue districts, regardless of the preferences of the people. We can and should do better.”