Editor: Early voting starts on September 18th. Do you have a plan to vote? For information on how to vote early, please visit https://www.elections.virginia.gov/casting-a-ballot/absentee-voting/
On your ballot this year is a Constitutional Amendment about redistricting. Every 10 years, after the Census is completed, the lines for legislative districts are created. Historically, this has been done in Virginia by our General Assembly. People should pick their legislators at the ballot box. Legislators should not be choosing who they represent.
Please vote NO on this amendment. The amendment printed on your ballot is a condensed version of the actual text that would be in the Virginia Constitution. There are actually two constitutional amendments this year. These amendments total 1,369 words, but only 89 words on your ballot. This is one of two lawsuits that have been brought forward against this ballot amendment.
Focus on the first 20 words of this Amendment. They are “Should the Constitution of Virginia be amended to establish a redistricting commission, consisting of eight members of the General Assembly”. Full stop, the answer is no. We should not be enshrining legislators into the process of drawing district lines for themselves or their colleagues. Do not allow legislators into the process of drawing their district lines. We need an independent, nonpartisan redistricting commission.
Do not allow people to scare you by saying we will have gerrymandered districts in Virginia if this constitutional amendment fails. I know it can be hard to keep up with all the new legislation that was passed earlier this year and went into effect on July 1. HB 1255 passed earlier this year and will eliminate gerrymandering.https://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?ses=201&typ=bil&val=hb1255
I have heard legislators say this amendment is not perfect and not to let perfection stand in the way of progress. When it comes to changing the words in the Virginia Constitution, we need perfection. Or have they forgotten that our Constitution currently defines marriage as being between a man and a woman? Legislation was passed this year repealing the ban on same-sex marriage, but it did not amend our Constitution.
The second lawsuit alleges this amendment will turn the Supreme Court of Virginia into a political body. If this amendment passes and the commission of 8 legislators and 8 citizens is deadlocked, “the districts shall be established by the Supreme Court of Virginia.” I must remind you that it is the members of the General Assembly who appoint judges to the Supreme, Appeals, and Circuit court. This once again tips the scales in the favor of our legislators.
The lawsuits against Virginia Amendment 1 are still pending. I doubt it will be settled before this Friday when early voting starts. Vote “No” on this Constitutional Amendment.
Charlotte McConnell, Sterling