HB1256 protects communities of color and public input while reforming the map-drawing process to ensure every voter has an equal voice.
Delegate Marcia Price was joined this morning by voting rights advocates to discuss HB1256, proposed legislation to create an independent Virginia redistricting commission. An independent commission to handle the 2021 redistricting is critically important to ensure voters can choose their elected officials, not the other way around. For 400 years, Black people and people of color in Virginia have been systematically marginalized, silenced, and told to wait their turn. HB1256 proactively addresses this legacy, as well as recent litigation in Virginia over racial discrimination in redistricting, by establishing proactive, affirmative protections for communities of color and communities of interest. The legislation also prioritizes public input and transparency to ensure voters have a real say in defining their own communities and political districts and ensures that one party is not able to block non-partisan maps from moving forward.
“I am committed to passing redistricting reform this year: so that voters can choose their elected officials, not the other way around,” said Delegate Marcia Price. “But simply put, there is no reform without the full and equal inclusion of communities of color. This legislature has the opportunity with HB1256 to move forward boldly with redistricting reform that proactively addresses 400 years of discrimination to make sure communities of color have an equal opportunity and voice in our democracy. Redistricting reform must happen this year and it must happen in a way that leaves out no voter, no matter where they live or the color of their skin.”
“Our communities have been fighting for years to build a Virginia for all of us,” added Tram Nguyen, co-executive director of New Virginia Majority. “But in order to keep making progress, we must have fair maps and equal representation. No matter who we are, the color of our skin, where we come from, or where we live, we all deserve an equal say in choosing our representatives.”
“The current process in Virginia is both untenable and unacceptable. The question isn’t whether reform is necessary, but what is the right path forward,” said Yurij Rudensky, redistricting counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice. “HB1256 offers enhancements in important areas that track what we strongly believe are best practices, including public accountability, independence, and clear guidelines for drawing maps.”
“After years of living under extremely gerrymandered maps intended to silence the voice of voters, Virginians deserve a process that gives the people the opportunity to choose their representatives,” said Garrett Arwa, Director of Campaigns at the National Redistricting Action Fund. “As it stands, Delegate Price’s reform effort presents the most viable path toward ensuring that the Commonwealth has an independent redistricting process in 2021. Her bill will increase transparency during the map-drawing process and includes necessary protections for communities of color.”