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COD. Sept. 16: Amendment shines light on district line-drawing

COD. Sept. 16: Amendment shines light on district line-drawing

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COD

Amendment shines light on district line-drawing

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

When I covered the General Assembly as a reporter between 1980 and 2008, the dirtiest legislative business routinely was done in back rooms away from public scrutiny.

Gerrymandering was the business most destructive to democratic principles of fairness and one person, one vote. Lines were drawn to maximize majority party advantage by creating new districts that incumbents suited to themselves and that made little sense to many voters.

Political opponents and voters lacked input into the map-carving process that minimized competition and resulted in screwy-looking districts resembling sand art drawn by snakes. Virginians would not stand for such “snake art” if legislative district lines had to be redrawn by a commission with citizen members openly operating in full public view.

The current practice of hidden drawing for partisan priorities will continue unless Virginians vote this fall to approve an amendment to the Virginia Constitution.

This amendment would create a bipartisan commission to draw electoral maps in Virginia. The commission would include citizens and require all meetings to be open to the public. The strong disinfectant of sunlight would replace the specter of self-dealing secrecy.

In my opinion, the transparency demanded in Virginia’s proposed constitutional amendment for redistricting is more than a match for the excessive partisanship it thankfully would replace.

Bob Gibson,

Charlottesville.

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