Ken Plum: Vote Yes on Amendment #1
In a campaign that promises “fair maps” by voting yes for Amendment #1 on the ballot this election cycle and the opposition that promises “fair districts” by voting no, there is little wonder that there would be confusion in the minds of voters. As a strong supporter of Amendment #1, I turned to Ballotpedia, a nonprofit whose mission is to inform people with neutral content about politics, to define objectively what a yes or no vote means on the Virginia ballot question: (ballotpedia.org)
A “yes” vote supports transferring the power to draw the state’s congressional and legislative districts from the state legislature to a redistricting commission composed of state legislators and citizens.
A “no” vote opposes transferring the power to draw the state’s congressional and legislative districts to a redistricting commission, thus keeping the state legislature responsible for redistricting.
If you are interested as I am in ending partisan gerrymandering of legislative districts, you will vote “yes.” I am not alone in my belief that this is the best vote. The Amendment is supported by the League of Women Voters, AAUW, ACLU, Common Cause, Princeton University Gerrymandering Project, Brennan Center for Justice, AARP, leading political scientists, historians and law professors in Virginia, and the major newspapers in the state.
As Dr. Samuel Wang, a Princeton University professor and director/founder of the Princeton Gerrymandering Project, and his associates wrote in an opinion column in the Virginia Mercury, an online newsletter, “We are proud to endorse Amendment 1 because never before has the Commonwealth seen such an open and transparent redistricting process. Such citizen involvement will help protect communities that have split up in the past.” (Sept. 16, 2020)
Eight professors from Virginia’s largest and most prominent universities including three from the University of Virginia contributed to an article that appeared in the Jan. 29, 2020, Richmond Times Dispatch stating “As scholars of elections and redistricting, we believe this Amendment represents an unprecedented opportunity to strengthen Virginia’s democracy—one that we cannot afford to miss.”
David Daley, a senior fellow at FairVote and author of Ratf**ked: Why Your Vote Doesn’t Count, wrote in a column in the Washington Post on Nov. 22, 2019, “Politicians usually do a lousy job of regulating themselves. But if this (Amendment #1) moves forward, it would be the strongest set of redistricting reforms to ever emerge from a state legislature in American history.”
Editorial writers at the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star could not have been more direct than when they wrote on Sept. 19, “Vote ‘Yes’ for Amendment 1, which will keep politicians from choosing their voters.”
The Washington Post has had several editorials in support of Amendment #1 including most recently on Sept. 27, stating that “If the constitutional amendment is approved by Virginia voters, they would be the likely winners, and baldfaced partisan gerrymandering in Richmond would sustain a mortal blow.” They also suggested that “(t)o imagine that rejecting the amendment, and leaving redistricting in the hands of the legislature, would produce fairer and more balanced maps is to believe in leprechauns and forest sprites.”
If you have not already voted or made your plan to vote, please do so. The process of voting this year could not be easier, and the stakes could not be higher for the state and the nation!
Ken Plum is a member of the Virginia House of Delegates.