You’ve Been Gerrymandered! was the theme of a League of Women Voters meeting held in Salem on Saturday, May 19.
OneVirginia2021 brought their Deep Dive into Redistricting workshop to Southwest Virginia, led by Executive Director Brian Cannon. The workshop focused on redistricting issues in Virginia as well as the status of current court cases around the country and recent developments in other states.
“The first point I always like to make,” said Cannon, “is that this is not a left/right issue, it is a right/wrong issue. Both political parties gerrymander.”
The Virginia Constitution specifies that district lines be redrawn after each federal census, based on equal population, compactness and contiguous jurisdictions. “Virginia does well on two of these,” noted Cannon, “with districts’ populations varying only 1-2 percent and mainly covering contiguous jurisdictions.”
Compactness is another story. Cannon referred to a state map showing long, skinny districts, odd shapes and districts that criss-cross county and city lines, fracturing communities and splitting voting precincts. He also described districts with squiggly lines weaving through neighborhoods based on voting patterns and, in some cases, even explicitly drawn to protect incumbents from possible challengers.
Cannon also outlined OneVirginia2021’s plans for the next eight months, focusing on voter education and legislative advocacy in advance of the 2020 US census. OneVirginia2021 is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization founded in 2014 to work for reasonable, tangible reforms to the redistricting process. For more information, visit OneVirginia2021.org
The workshop was sponsored by the League of Women Voters of the Roanoke Valley and the League of Women Voters of Montgomery County. The LWV, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed participation in government and works to educate voters on significant public policy issues through events, publications and social media.
-Submitted by Cynthia Miller