Proposed Virginia maps scale back majority Black districts

Virginia

Del. Lashrecse Aird, D-Petersburg, delivers a speech at the Capitol, March 5, 2020, in Richmond, Va. Proposed redistricting maps under consideration by the Virginia Supreme Court would constitute a significant reduction in the number of majority Black districts in the General Assembly. Aird and Roslyn Tyler lost elections in their districts in southside Virginia, a part of the state that exhibits some of the most extreme patterns of racially polarized voting. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, file)

FALLS CHURCH, Va. (AP/WAVY) — Proposed redistricting maps under consideration by the Virginia Supreme Court would constitute a significant reduction in the number of majority Black districts in the General Assembly.

The Virginia Supreme Court held a public hearing Wednesday to get feedback on maps submitted for new boundaries in Congress and the General Assembly.

The experts who drew the maps say Black voters can still elect candidates of their choice in the legislative districts by forming coalitions with other groups.

Others think that approach will only end up diluting Black representation.

The Virginia State Conference of the NAACP sent out a statement on Dec. 17 saying Virginia must protect fair representation for Black voters in their new statewide redistricting maps.

“Black Virginians have a right to fair representation, which means map-drawers must consider the continuing effects of Virginia’s history of racial discrimination when drawing new district lines,” said Damon Hewitt, president and executive director with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Federal and state law make clear that districts must be drawn so as to ensure that Black voters are provided an equal opportunity to participate in the political process of the Commonwealth. We commend the seriousness with which the Special Masters have approached their important task thus far, and trust that they will listen to feedback from these communities and set an equitable standard for other states in our nation.”

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