Virginia NAACP says constitutional amendment on the ballot would adversely affect Black voters

Virginia

(File photo of polling station)

(WAVY) — The Virginia State Conference of the NAACP has raised concerns that a proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot this November would negatively impact Black voters.

Constitutional Amendment 1 would create a bipartisan redistricting commission that would redraw election districts for the U.S. House of Representatives and the state Senate and House of Representatives.

The General Assembly is currently tasked with drawing those election districts, and some have said it allows for “gerrymandering,” or purposely drawing election district lines so voters favor one political party over the other.

The redistricting commission would be made up of eight members of the Virginia General Assembly and eight Virginia residents. The Virginia General Assembly would vote on their proposed redistricting plans.

However, the NAACP says Amendment 1 “would undermine opportunities for Black voters to elect representatives of their choosing while consolidating the power of a handful of powerful politicians to control the redistricting process.”

The NAACP says the citizens would be “handpicked” by party leaders. The NAACP also takes issue with the fact that Amendment 1 doesn’t require diversity on the commission or other protections for communities of color.

“Voters should choose their elected officials, not the other way around,” says Robert N. Barnette, Virginia NAACP president. “But for too many years, politicians have drawn rigged districts that strip Black voters of our voice. We need to reform the system, not make it worse. Any redistricting amendment must include explicit and strong protections for Black voters and voters of color.”

District lines were also redrawn in 2019.

That move resulted in more than 425,000 voters from Richmond to Virginia Beach being sorted into 25 new districts.


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