Last week we told you about a disappointing development regarding a proposed bill (HB 2383) to establish an independent redistricting commission to redraw the boundaries of West Virginia’s legislative and congressional districts after the 2020 Census. In a surprise move, a House Judiciary subcommittee voted to take out the independent commission and continue to leave legislators in charge of drawing the maps that govern their own elections, undermining the original intent of the bill.
When the bill was taken up by the full Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, Delegate Mike Pushkin (D-Kanawha) who served on the subcommittee offered an amendment to honor the original intent of the bill, by establishing an independent commission that would be tasked with drawing legislative and congressional district maps. The amendment failed on a party-line vote, before the bill was sent on to the full House for further consideration.
Although we agree that establishing a specific list of factors that can (and cannot) consider in the redistricting process, including factors designed to promote partisan fairness and prevent favoritism toward incumbents, is an improvement, these goals would be more easily accomplished if we appointed someone other than legislators to draw legislative district maps.
We need to let our delegates know that we want a process that is impartial, transparent, and accountable. This means having an independent redistricting commission lead redistricting efforts, providing ample opportunities for public participation throughout the process, and clear standards to guide the process that ensure equality and fairness. Contact your delegate(s) today and tell them to support fair districts and fair elections.