Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Vote Yes on Amendment 1

Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Vote Yes on Amendment 1

As a volunteer over the last four years advocating to end gerrymandering and reform the way our legislative districts are drawn, I wanted to let you know that we have a chance to approve a state constitutional amendment to create the Commonwealth’s first ever redistricting commission. By joining me in voting yes on Amendment 1, you can help end the long-time practice of allowing politicians to pick their voters instead of the voters electing the politicians.

We redraw electoral districts every ten years, and in Virginia, we’ve left this critical responsibility up to members of our state General Assembly. As a result, our “elected” officials have drawn maps to protect their own interests and keep themselves in power.

If we pass Amendment 1, we can create a transparent, bipartisan, citizen-led commission to draw legislative districts. This means that instead of shady backroom deals, the new system will be completely open to the watchful eyes of all citizens. Public meetings will be held across Virginia, with all the proceedings available for public scrutiny for the first time.

The amendment also adds the minority protections of the federal Voting Rights Act into the Virginia Constitution to protect against lapses in federal-level safeguards. For decades, Virginia has depended on federal protections for minority voting rights, but those have been steadily eroded. Amendment 1 ensures that “districts shall provide, where practicable, opportunities for racial and ethnic communities to elect candidates of their choice” no matter what.

Amendment 1 has support from a bipartisan list of Virginia-based advocacy groups, nationally recognized anti-gerrymandering organizations, major Virginia newspapers, and over 70% of registered voters in the Commonwealth. Join me and so many other Virginians in taking the pledge to VOTE YES ON AMENDMENT 1 and transform Virginia into a state whose redistricting process is finally fair.

Bonnie Hershberg