RICHMOND – Three identical party-line votes smothered the last breath of redistricting reform for the 2017 General Assembly in a 7 a.m. meeting Tuesday. After the debate invoked an old dispute and deal between two legislators in opposite chambers and opposing parties, the Republican-controlled House Privileges and Elections subcommittee killed two proposed Senate resolutions on 5-2 votes that could have put redistricting reform on the statewide ballot in 2018.
Republican members of the House Privileges and Elections subcommittee voted against reporting one of several redistricting bills they considered during a meeting inside the General Assembly Building in Richmond, VA Tuesday, Feb. 14 2017. Committee members Luke Torian, D-Prince William, and Mark d. Sickles, D-Fairfax, who voted to report the bills and Delegates Margaret B. Ransone, R-Westmoreland, Mark L. Cole, R-Spotsylvania, S. Chris Jones, R-Suffolk and Buddy Fowler, Jr., R-Hanover, voted against the measure.
After the debate invoked an old dispute and deal between two legislators in opposite chambers and opposing parties, the Republican-controlled House Privileges and Elections subcommittee killed two proposed Senate resolutions on 5-2 votes that could have put redistricting reform on the statewide ballot in 2018.
[intense_alert color=”#a39d9d”] A soft call of “shame” rose as SJ 231 died from a crowd asking persistently for reform. The bill carried by Sen. Emmett W. Hanger Jr., R-Augusta, would have created under the state constitution a commission to redraw the lines in 2021 and standards under which they should operate.
The subcommittee also killed SB 846 carried by Sen. L. Louise Lucas, D-Portsmouth, that would have formed an interim redistricting commission to address fallout if Virginia’s congressional and state lines were declared unconstitutional. Two court cases are pending.
The nonprofit OneVirginia2021 rallied support from Virginia residents throughout the 2017 General Assembly, including for a slew of House bills that died mostly on a block vote last month.
In Virginia, state legislators redraw district lines for the U.S. Congress, the Virginia House of Delegates and the Senate of Virginia after every 10-year census. Under the current system, the party in power in the House and the party in power in the Senate can draw the lines to serve their own interests, not those of our communities.
[intense_blockquote]GERRYMANDERING is the deliberate manipulation of legislative district boundaries to advantage or benefit a particular party or group, or to cause disadvantage or harm to an opposing party or group. It distorts the electoral process, undermines democracy, and renders legislative elections a meaningless exercise. It’s a conflict of interest for the legislature to draw it’s own district lines. [/intense_blockquote]
Virginia is ranked as one of the most gerrymandered states in the country both on the congressional and state levels based on lack of compactness and contiguity of its districts.Virginia is ranked the 5th worst in the country.Throughout the Commonwealth, counties and cities are being broken in half or into multiple pieces to create heavily partisan districts.
Calling your legislator is one of the best ways to influence their opinions on bills and topics. Emailing is a good resource but getting a phone call really makes legislators notice an issue.
I support redistricting reform. I support HJ 763 in the House of Delegates and SJ 290 in the Senate. I do not want voting districts drawn to favor or disfavor any political party or person. These bills would put a stop to political gerrymandering.
Your delegate might say that he/she can’t vote for reform because there’s pending litigation – this is BOGUS. 1. There will be a decision from SCOTUS in the next few weeks in the Bethune-Hill case, which is about racial gerrymandering. 2. Our legislation is for a constitutional amendment – those take two years to pass! If SCOUTS decides something that would affect this legislation (we can’t even think of what that might be), the General Assembly can always kill this bill next year. HJ 763 is a simple and straight-forward solution, and there is no good reason to vote no. We NEED a YES VOTE on HJ763. Call them and let them know. www.onevirginia2021.org/call
How Republican legislators and political operatives fundamentally rigged our American democracy through redistricting.
“With Barack Obama’s historic election in 2008, pundits proclaimed the Republicans as dead as the Whigs of yesteryear. Yet even as Democrats swooned, a small cadre of Republican operatives, including Karl Rove, Ed Gillespie, and Chris Jankowski began plotting their comeback with a simple yet ingenious plan. These men had devised a way to take a tradition of dirty tricks―known to political insiders as “ratf**king”―to a whole new, unprecedented level. Flooding state races with a gold rush of dark money made possible by Citizens United, the Republicans reshaped state legislatures, where the power to redistrict is held. Reconstructing this never- told-before story, David Daley examines the far-reaching effects of this so-called REDMAP program, which has radically altered America’s electoral map and created a firewall in the House, insulating the party and its wealthy donors from popular democracy.” -David Daley
Every decade, with recent results of the census in hand, legislative districts are drawn. Redrawing political lines is a powerful tool that determines who wins an election, controls the legislature, and ultimately which laws pass. In Virginia, legislators create the criteria and draw their own districts. This is a manipulative process known as gerrymandering, a ruthless and endless cycle of corruption intended solely to maintain a stranglehold on the legislative process by whichever party is in power following each decennial census.
Enough is enough. In a unanimous vote on June 13th, the Madison County Democratic Committee adopted a resolution drafted by OneVirginia2021 intended to help make politicians accountable to all Virginians through fair and competitive elections. We encourage all of our citizens to sign this bi-partisan petition to allow voters to choose their elected representatives instead of allowing politicians to manipulate elections by hand-picking their voters.
The Madison County Democratic Committee is pleased to announce an Afternoon of Advocacy, focusing on two key matters of concern for Virginia voters. To be held on June 12 at 4:00 PM at the Madison County Chamber of Commerce, the program will feature special guests Terry Cooper and Linda Periello from OneVirginia2021, a Charlottesville-based coalition that brings together concerned citizens from all over the Commonwealth to re-energize forces for fair, non-partisan redistricting.
click to download flyer
Next, we’ll hear from Lorne Seay, Secretary Treasurer of the Virginia AFL-CIO, who will address the audience about an imminent threat to Virginia’s Constitution in the form of an amendment to enshrine an existing law designed to infringe upon the rights of workers and stifle our collective voices.
Following the presentations, We’ll discuss how we can best get involved in both of these initiatives, as well as talk about our plans to help with Jane Dittmar’s Congressional Campaign.
We’ll try to wrap everything up in plenty of time for dinner. See you Sunday!
This is the least understood and least reported big issue in Virginia. Our state government is an all-powerful disaster zone. The normal checks and balances on a state legislature are:
1. Federal government.
2. State judiciary.
3. Local government.
4. The state constitution.
4. The voters themselves.
5. The executive branch – the governor.
The Virginia General Assembly has steadfastly marginalized the checks and balances of each of these outside entities with the partial exception of the federal government which the GA cannot control (although it tries – from Massive Resistance to Medicaid Expansion).
State judiciary – Virginia is the only state where state judges are directly elected by the legislature with no independent nominating or selection committees. What’s worse, practicing attorneys in the General Assembly elect and re-elect the very judges who decide their cases. Appalling.
Local government – strict Dillon’s Rule construct. Localities in Virginia are not allowed to determine the height of grass and weeds in their counties without General Assembly approval. No, I am not kidding
State constitution – The state constitution is routinely flaunted by the General Assembly. Virginia’s constitution requires that Congressional and state legislative districts be compact and contiguous. Take a look at the district outlines determined by the General Assembly. Do they look compact and contiguous? I guess somebody could appeal the districts to the state judiciary … oh wait, they are in the pockets of the General Assembly.
The voters themselves. Gerrymandering, off year elections, hardest state to get on the ballot as an independent, no term limits for legislators, America’s least competitive state elections, no recall elections, no voter initiated referenda … the voters have been marginalized.
The executive branch. Virginia is the only state in America where the sitting governor cannot run for a second consecutive term. Our governor is a lame duck on the day he or she is inaugurated.
Virginia’s problems stem from an over-powered, corrupt and unaccountable General Assembly.