Every 10 years, Americans participate in the U.S. Census. (You filled out your census form last year, right?) The information from the Census is then used in conjunction with input from communities to draw political maps. Those maps then determine what district we live in, who represents us, and how they will allocate resources for our communities. This process determines not only how we will be represented but also how funds for schools, hospitals, and other essential services will be allocated, and it’s happening right now!
Members of the Virginia Redistricting Commission have 45 days to draw state level districts and 60 days to draw Congressional districts starting on August 26. But if we want maps that will be truly reflective of our communities and elected representatives that come from those communities, we have to tell members of the Commission what our communities actually look like.
Whether we’re digging a neighbor out of the snow, cooking up a Sunday block party, or planting a community garden, nobody knows our communities better than the people who actually live in them. The members of the Redistricting Commission aren’t invited to the block party and don’t know us. So we have to tell them.
If we don’t speak out now, what we’re likely to get is just square boxes on a map. That might seem good in theory, but our diverse, vibrant communities don’t fit into boxes. And we can’t let politicians divide up our communities, dilute our voting power, and silence us because we didn’t speak out.
The next meeting of the redistricting commission is on September 2. You can sign up to give public comment to let the Commissioners know what you want to see come out of the map-drawing process, how you define your community, and let them know you are watching the outcome closely (despite what Senator Barker thinks.)