Redistricting and Gerrymandering — Virginia Proposed Constitutional Amendment #1

A debate was held on the pros and cons of a constitutional amendment on redistricting that is on the November ballot.  An explanation of the amendment by the Virginia Department of Elections can be found here.  The SSV meeting was held via Zoom. Click here for a video recording of the meeting. A podcast recording is also available.

Brian Cannon was the executive director of OneVirginia2021 for five years and lead their grassroots, nonpartisan organization in lobbying legislators to pass a constitutional redistricting reform amendment. Brian is now the executive director of FairMapsVA, a ballot campaign dedicated to educating Virginians about Amendment 1 and urging them to vote yes to end partisan gerrymandering in Virginia.


Christopher Ambrose is a small business owner from Fairfax County and has been a longtime community activist and long-standing advocate against gerrymandering.  Mr. Ambrose supports independent redistricting and is a founding member of Fair Districts Virginia, a grassroots group that supports independent redistricting and opposes the constitutional amendment.


Program Summary


Christopher Ambrose, Brian Cannon and moderator Bob McGrath

Christopher Ambrose, an opponent of the proposed constitutional amendment #1 on this year’s ballot, and Brian Cannon, a proponent of the amendment were the presenters. The men agreed upon the problem: The need to remove the legislators from the drawing of district lines. Each has a different vision of how we get there. Brian Cannon who is for the amendment feels this is a “good government” issue and agrees that it is not perfect. He is pleased 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 is opposed. 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, they are picked from a list provided by legislators. His compromises would be to have some legislators on the commission, not as effective would be half legislators on the commission. This amendment also includes legislators setting criteria. New Jersey passed a similar amendment and results have been the incumbents there have an advantage and voter turnout is diminishing. Questions from the audience then followed.

It was a pleasure to watch a presentation where both parties could have a civil disagreement with each articulating his position of a complicated issue clearly, acknowledging common ground and offering options for moving forward. SSV encourages watching the video to better understand this important issue.

Comments are closed.