Advocacy groups speak out as redistricting heads to Virginia Supreme Court
RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ) - Soon, the responsibility for redistricting will pass from a state commission to the Virginia Supreme Court. And groups that are following the process want to make sure their voices are heard.
Advocacy groups, including many that represent Virginia immigrant communities, briefed reporters Friday, saying the state has fallen short in making sure all Virginians have an equal shot at participating in the process.
Virginia’s redistricting commission held many public hearings, but failed to agree on new maps for the General Assembly and congressional districts.
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As a deadline approaches early next week, groups that have been following the process are renewing their call for equitable districts that keep communities together.
Erin Corbett is the Redistricting Manager with the Virginia Civic Engagement Table.
“We really want to reiterate that message to the commissioners, knowing that if and when the maps pass to the Supreme Court, we will have worked to communicate our needs and our wishes for our organizations to every governing body that is part of this process.”
Advocates for immigrant communities note the rapid growth of the state’s Latino population, now accounting for almost a million of Virginia’s citizens.
“It’s Incredibly important for every single person as much as they are able to make your voices heard to the commission, because these maps aren’t just for the coming year, these maps are in place for the next ten years unless litigation happens,” said Tony Solis Cruz with MALDEF, the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund.
“And as we continue to grow and we continue to organize, we will push and advocate for the needs of our community and to make sure they are brought up in equity,” said Monica Sarmiento, Executive Director of the Virginia Coalition for Immigrant Rights.
One of the areas in which they say the state has fallen short is in providing language services that would allow non-English speakers to participate and provide public comment.
The Virginia Civic Engagement Table and its partners are working on an internet tool, that will allow Virginians to provide comments in their native language, and have them translated for submission in English.
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