For Immediate Release
January 21, 2013
Surprise floor amendment radically redraws Virginia State Senate districts
Richmond, Va. – Civic engagement organizations expressed shock and dismay today after the Virginia State Senate voted 20-19 to drastically redraw legislative boundaries. The move clearly contradicts Article 2, Section 6 of the Virginia Constitution, which states, "The General Assembly shall reapportion the Commonwealth into electoral districts in accordance with this section in the year 2011 and every ten years thereafter."
Anna Scholl of ProgressVA stated, "This move is an obvious violation of the State Constitution, which clearly states that redistricting occurs every ten years. Legislators can't rewrite the rules of the game whenever they want. Voters should be choosing their leaders, not the other way around."
The organizations also decried the lack of notice and transparency in the move. The floor amendment was submitted without any public notice and left no time for public comment or disclosure.
Tram Nguyen, Associate Director of Virginia New Majority, said, "It's outrageous Senators moved this legislation in a way designed to circumvent the public. The ability to choose our leaders is at the heart of our democracy. Changing the rules without giving citizens the opportunity for input silences our voices."
The Richmond Circuit Court addressed just this issue last year. A judge ruled the language in the Constitution limits the authority of the General Assembly to redistrict to 2011 and every ten years thereafter and does not allow subsequent re-redistricting, which is what this bill does.
The organizations appealed to elected officials to reconsider. "No measure this important should be advanced without due consideration and time for public education and comment," said David Broder, President of SEIU Local 512. "We urge legislators and Governor McDonnell to slow down and demonstrate compelling evidence of serious problems with the districts they approved just last year."
Organizations expressing concern include A. Philip Randolph Institute, Progress Virginia, SEIU Virginia 512, Virginia Civic Engagement Table, Virginia New Majority and Virginia Organizing.