Groups urge redistricting commission to embrace transparency, citizen input

Published: Mar. 30, 2021 at 7:26 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Virginia’s new redistricting commission is getting to work, and many of the groups keeping an eye on the process are calling for as much citizen involvement as possible.

The 16 members of the new commission have the task of re-drawing the state’s legislative districts.

During their second meeting Tuesday, they discussed their schedule and learned more about the Freedom of Information.

“We are hoping that our own accountability hearing actually pushes the commission to be more transparent,” said Alexandria Bratton, senior program manager with Virginia Civic Engagement Table.

“We have the opportunity now to really be intentional about how we are holding these commissioners responsible and accountable,” said her colleague Erin Corbett, “to ensure that we can do everything in our power that maps are genuinely equitable and they are not the catalyst for gerrymandering moving forward.”

The Virginia Counts Coalition says it hopes the commission will do a better job of providing notice and inviting public participation.

During Tuesday’s meeting, speakers encouraged the citizen members of the commission to resist political pressure.

“So I hope you are willing to stand up and say‘I speak for all Virginians who just want fair maps,” one of the speakers told members of the commission, “and make sure that we have truly fair maps and not some bipartisan incumbent protection gerrymander.”

Commission Co-chair Greta Harris said members are up to the task.

“We are committed to transparency, accountability, inclusivity and integrity to represent all citizens of the great Commonwealth of Virginia,” Harris said.

The committee now expects to receive census data in mid-August.

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