The Redistricting Amendment that will come before the voters this November creates a bipartisan Redistricting Commission comprised of eight legislators and eight “citizens.” Aside from its many other problems (highlighted here and here and here and here), the Amendment gives nearly no guidance on who may serve as a “citizen” on this Commission.
The text of the Amendment reads:
B) By January 1 of the year ending in one, the Speaker of the House of Delegates, the leader in the House of Delegates of the political party having the next highest number of members in the House of Delegates, the President pro tempore of the Senate of Virginia, and the leader in the Senate of the political party having the next highest number of members in the Senate shall each submit to the Committee a list of at least sixteen citizen candidates for service on the Commission. Such citizen candidates shall meet the criteria established by the General Assembly by general law.
The Committee shall select, by a majority vote, two citizen members from each list submitted. No member or employee of the Congress of the United States or of the General Assembly shall be eligible to serve as a citizen member.
That’s the extent of the guidance. Although enabling legislation may be passed by the General Assembly to give more structure to the Commission, nothing more will be written into the Constitution. And any enabling legislation is completely at the whim of the current General Assembly, and can change from one session to the next.
What does this mean? It means that Wayne LaPierre, NRA chief executive could serve on the Commission. Or former Delegate Chris Jones, who crafted the 2011 districts and who, when the House GOP majority was subject to a civil lawsuit in U.S. District Court for allegedly unconstitutionally crowding Black voters into 12 districts, limiting their influence in the rest of the state, was the one who testified in defense of the GOP.
Or, how about this guy? No, not Governor Northam—he’s excluded from involvement in redistricting. The other guy, Ed Gillespie, architect of REDMAP (Redistricting Majority Project), which started all the gerrymandering. Sure, he’s eligible! Why not?
How about Brian Cannon, the executive director of 1VA2021, now deceptively relabelled “Fair Maps Virginia,” who has made his living for the past several years lobbying and working with the legislators nonstop to pass this Amendment? There’s nothing to prevent him from serving on the Redistricting Commission.
I could go on and on, listing lobbyists, big donors, corporate CEOs, former politicians who could serve. But I’ll leave it at this. There is *nothing* in the Redistricting Amendment requiring the Commission members to even be Virginians. The Amendment merely says “citizens.” There is nothing to prevent the “citizen” members from holding some public office OTHER than Congress or the General Assembly. In fact, THIS GUY could serve on the Commission! So who do you “want” on the commission? Take our fun poll, below!