by Linda Perriello, in response to this story on the fatally flawed redistricting amendment on Virginians’ ballots, in which Perriello is quoted that Amendment 1 is “bipartisan in a way that includes very politically motivated people whose job, by all human nature, is to preserve their own selection.”
As the article states there is room in this debate for many points of view and those views are respected by both sides. However, if I may, when you make the commission 50% sitting politicians to begin with, and then add 50% citizens who are basically selected by that same cabal of political leadership from both parties, you simply do not have a citizen-driven (as opposed to the traditional politician-driven) “district drawing process.” In essence, the politicians will cement their power in the process of drawing their own districts with this amendment.
This has never been D’s vs R’s; this has been about politicians vs the public. With no anti-gerrymandering provision in the amendment, politicians will have little restraint on drawing districts any way they want in order to advantage the incumbent politicians of the two major parties (note that there is no room for independents anywhere in the process).
Yes, General Assembly Democrats – without support from Republicans – passed significant enabling legislation to their own political disadvantage in the 2020 legislature, which could curb gerrymandering for the 2021 cycle. But with a power shift, any future legislature can change that in a hot second. Is it any wonder, then, that those Virginians who have lived with a history of exclusion and discrimination see that there are no guarantees in the Amendment for their political participation and fear that they will once again be excluded from the redistricting process? As Virginians, we cannot afford to put anything in our Constitution that does not make their representation on such a commission, and their participation in the drawing of maps, absolutely clear.
Sadly, if this Amendment passes, I think it is naïve for citizens to expect that there will be a groundswell of interest in further reform as the satisfied politicians can wash their hands of the issue and say they have already dealt with reform. Let’s hope that I am wrong.