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Opinion/Letter: Redistricting process not as unrestricted as hoped

Opinion/Letter: Redistricting process not as unrestricted as hoped

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If you have been following Virginia’s new Redistricting Commission, you know that it is currently undertaking a serious learning program. In very short order, the members must acquire the expertise to draw new election districts for congressional, state Senate, and House of Delegates seats, while complying with all constitutional and state laws governing fair elections.

To help with this, the staff put together a training video titled “Redistricting 101,” which lays out mapping software, techniques, census data, and other facts and figures the commission members will need to begin their enormous task.

Along the way, the training video drops a tiny little bomb. It says that addresses of incumbent legislators are allowed to be put into data, and therefore may be considered along with census and other data for drawing maps. Instructions to include this information came from the Joint Reapportionment Committee of the General Assembly.

Really?! Isn’t that why Virginians held a referendum and passed a constitutional amendment for a nonpartisan Redistricting Commission, to end those kinds of practices?

The newly drawn electoral maps should belong to the voters, not to any legislator or political party.

Using that information is would destroy the commission’s credibility. The members of the commission would be ill advised to use it, and they should be given the power to disallow it.

By the way, Redistricting Commission meetings are open to the public. Any individual can sign up to watch and/or to make a public comment at virginiaredistricting.org (go to FAQs). You can also watch recordings of past meetings. They are very interesting!

Dolores Dwyer

Albemarle County

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