The following resolution was adopted by the Fairfax County Democratic Committee – by far the largest local Democratic committee in Virginia (with 2,000+ members) – last Tuesday. For whatever reason, I’m just getting a copy of it now, but…it’s excellent; check it out, below. Key points:
- No question, “political gerrymandering is a substantial problem harming representational democracy throughout the United States; and within the Commonwealth of Virginia” and needs to change.
- However, the “proposed constitutional amendment, Senate Joint Resolution No. 306,” is severely flawed. For instance, it “does not include any anti-gerrymandering restrictions“; “rejects the nonpartisan or independent approaches to redistricting pursued in previous Democratic legislative efforts and as supported by most anti-gerrymandering reformers”; “the proposed amendment’s super-majority requirements would give two Republican legislator-members an absolute right to reject (or veto) the commission’s maps for Virginia’s House of Delegates or Senate, and the amendment would allow any three Republican legislator-members to veto commission maps for Virginia’s seats in the U.S. House of Representative“; “if members of the proposed commission fail to agree on maps (including as a result of a veto, as discussed above), SJ18 removes popularly elected representatives” and sends it to the Supreme Court, which has “no institutional expertise in performing the redistricting function” and, even worse, has “a majority of the current members of that Court were appointed by General Assemblies controlled by Republicans”; “many of the concerns raised regarding the amendment cannot be resolved by such legislation”; etc. In short, this amendment is a smoldering dumpster fire.
- So…because of all those fatal flaws, the Fairfax County Democratic Committee urges the Virginia General Assembly to reject the amendment, and instead to “support legislation that, beginning in 2021, imposes strict criteria regarding the redistricting process on the legislature to ensure that legislative district maps fairly represent Virginia’s population,and that future redistricting will be performed without the practice of gerrymandering to increase one party’s political representation beyond its actual popular support (as measured by recent elections), and/or to protect incumbents” and to “to support passage of a constitutional amendment that would be applicable beginning with the 2031 redistricting process and that would create a nonpartisan or independent commission with requirements prohibiting gerrymandering based on appropriate criteria and requiring that a completely transparent redistricting process be conducted by such a commission”