SSV: Virginia’s Proposed Redistricting Constitutional Amendment

Christopher Ambrose (left), Brian Cannon (right) and Bob McGrath (below)

Christopher Ambrose, an opponent of the proposed constitutional amendment #1 on this year’s ballot, and Brian Cannon, a proponent of the amendment spoke at the October 14, 2020 meeting of the Senior Statesmen of Virginia. Both men agreed on the problem: The need to remove the legislators from the drawing of district lines while each had a different vision of how to get there.

Brian Cannon (Fair Maps VA) supports the amendment. He believes that this is a “good government” issue and agrees that it is not perfect. He believes that there is a hybrid commission of one-half legislators and one-half citizens that are evenly balanced by parties, is transparent and makes racial gerrymandering illegal. This amendment has a lot of support from independent organizations who have fought for redistricting reform around the country.

Christopher Ambrose (Fair Districts VA) opposes the amendment. From his perspective the amendment trades one type of gerrymandering for another. His ideal is to get legislators totally out of the process. His objections include that though judges pick citizens for the commission, but they are picked from a list provided by legislators. His compromise would be to have some legislators on the commission. New Jersey passed a similar amendment and results have been the incumbents there have an advantage and voter turnout is diminishing.

The two spoke at the Wednesday October 14, 2020 meeting of the Senior Statesmen of Virginia. The meeting was held on Zoom. Following the presentation, questions were taken from the audience. The program was moderated by SSV board member and past president, Bob McGrath.