Why Say ‘Yes’ To Amendment 1?

Sept. 10, 2020

Editor, The News-Gazette:

As we cast our votes this fall for president, members of Congress, and local offices, we also have our best foreseeable chance to tackle – and maybe even end, or at least start dismantling – gerrymandering in Virginia, by voting “yes” for Amendment 1 on the official ballot.

Opponents argue that the proposed redistricting commission will not be truly bipartisan or truly citizen-based. In fact it calls for the commission to be made up of eight members drawn equally from both parties in the General Assembly and eight from the citizenry of the commonwealth.

It has also been of concern that the amendment might not adequately address a long history of racial gerrymandering. However, the amendment states that “every electoral district shall be drawn in accordance with the requirements of federal and state laws that address racial and ethnic fairness,” including the Fourteenth Amendment and 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Opponents suggest pushing for a stronger amendment. There aren’t currently enough votes in the General Assembly to make that likely. And if Amendment 1 does pass, improvements could follow.

Amendment 1 isn’t perfect. But it is a start. As The News-Gazette noted in a recent editorial, the amendment is the rare recent example of a bipartisan effort and agreement in our General Assembly.

We have to start trying to trust each other enough to work together at some point. For me, Amendment 1 represents that opportunity.



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