Speak Out for Fair Districting: Public Hearing 10/13 @8AM

Speak Out for Fair Districting!

In-Person Public Hearing 10/13 at 8AM – Register 7-8AM in WV House Chamber

The Legislature has convened in special session to approve new boundaries for state legislative and congressional districts. These maps will shape our lives and communities for the next decade and beyond. That’s why it’s important to come together to speak out on fair districting so that our communities are whole and have equal resources to meet our needs. There’s still time to provide input on the proposed maps and nobody knows our communities better than the people who live in them.

On Wednesday, October 13 at 8AM the House Committee on Redistricting will hold a public hearing on proposed House of Delegates and congressional district maps. The hearing will be in the House Chamber at the State Capitol and sign up begins at 7AM. (See details below on how you can view the proposed maps under consideration.)

Can’t make the public hearing? Contact your state legislators to insist on fairly drawn maps where communities remain whole and where voters have an equal voice. Comments and ideas can be submitted here or via joint.redistricting@wvlegislature.gov.

Watch or listen to the livestream of the hearing here.

We only get one chance at this and the outcomes will last 10 years and beyond. Our collective action can make positive change and help shape this process.

PS: Need a redistricting primer? Mountain State Spotlight breaks down what’s at stake, and how it works, as lawmakers redraw West Virginia’s political maps.

Where and How to View the Proposed Maps

All of the maps proposed by the Committees, as well as various maps and comments that have been submitted by members of the public, are available here: https://www.wvlegislature.gov/redistricting.cfm

Yesterday the House Redistricting Committee advanced a plan for how House of Delegates districts will be configured as we move from a mix of multi and single member districts to 100 single-member districts. Additionally, the Senate Redistricting Committee advanced its recommendation for a congressional map along with a suggested plan for new State Senate districts.

To view the proposed WV House of Delegates plan in detail via Google Earth:

1) Download House Proposed Map 1 – Com Sub [.KMZ] file under Proposed Delegate District Maps at https://www.wvlegislature.gov/Districts/2020/housemaps.cfm to your computer.

2) Go to https://earth.google.com/web/

3) From the Menu in the sidebar, click Projects, then Open, then Import the KMZ/KML file from your computer.

You can view a booklet of the proposed districts here.

Things we know about the Proposed House Plan:

The proposal has drawn criticism from Democrats on the House Committee who say they were largely shut out of the process. You can read more here and here.

Although the GOP leadership says they didn’t consider voting behavior or the addresses of any incumbents or potential candidates in drawing districts, the proposed plan has a decidedly Republican lean. One analysis projects Republicans would make massive gains in 2022, favored in 85 seats, compared to the 78 they have now (R+7) and that Democrats would go from 22 to 15 seats. While maps shouldn’t favor or discriminate against incumbents, candidates, or parties, a fair map that took voters’ preferences into account would be more competitive and result in the makeup of the House being more proportional to the total votes cast for candidates of each party in prior elections.

Politics aside, one thing legislators heard over and over as they traveled around the state was that people want their neighborhoods and communities to be kept whole, but there are several cities and towns across the state that have them been unnecessarily divided. These include Elkins, Lewisburg and Shepherdstown to name a few. It would be impossible to put the state’s larger cities into a single district, but there’s no good reason to split these small municipalities into more than one.

Additionally, an analysis of the proposed districts via Dave’s Redistricting, also indicates that they rate poorly in terms of minority representation and giving Black and other communities of color the opportunity to elect a candidate of their choice. This should be a priority consideration and latitude should be taken to create majority minority and minority influence districts to make this possible.

Politicians manipulating the maps to preserve their own power and dividing our communities in the process isn’t an acceptable outcome. Gerrymandering and unfair maps purposefully weaken the ability of communities, especially minority and/or marginalized communities, to advocate for themselves.

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