ICYMI: Bipartisan Is Not Nonpartisan—Redistricting Commission Takes On Political Tone It Was Created To Avoid

Richmond, Virginia—On Monday, it became clear that Virginian’s hope for a nonpartisan commission, prioritizing communities of people over politics, is rapidly diminishing. The partisan divide began when each political side armed themselves with partisan legal counsel, and it increased when determining an organization to assist with the map-drawing process. 

In meetings of the Redistricting Commission, entirely too much time was spent discussing whether or not the chamber should be in charge of its own maps, whether or not map drawers should be non-partisan, and the implications of starting the districting maps from scratch without taking into account the current district lines. It became clear that some members of the Commission are more interested in protecting their political party than engaging in a truly nonpartisan redistricting process. 

“The whole purpose of the Redistricting Commission is to take politics out of the mapping and community districting process. Incumbent home addresses should not be considered, and the commission should absolutely start from scratch. It shouldn’t even be a debate,” Vanessa Clinton, Press Secretary at Progress Virginia, said. “Keeping communities together and ensuring fair maps for all should be the priority of the commission, not protecting politicians or political parties.” 

Hope fades for a fair redistricting process [Editorial Board, The Daily Progress]

“Virginia still can’t seem to escape the cynical, self-serving partisanship that dominates its redistricting process.”

“It’s precisely because voters don’t trust the legislature to draw neutral maps that we now have a redistricting commission, removing that power from the General Assembly and giving it to a commission that was to have been independent of partisan influences — or so we had hoped. Of course no other state entities have experience in redistricting; the ability to gain such experience was denied them.”

“Originally envisioned as a nonpartisan entity, the redistricting commission eventually evolved into a bipartisan one.”

“Virginia voters approved the constitutional amendment overwhelmingly. This clear message from the voters now risks being ignored by the very people who are supposed to implement it. We hope we’re wrong. For the sake of Virginia’s future, we hope we’re wrong. But we can no longer be optimistic.”