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Judy Ratliff wrote:

I live in Reston, a largely democratic-voting district. We are included in a swath of democratic-voting areas that end in areas in Alexandria. This is crazy. Voters in Alexandria and voters in Reston should not be put together in one voting district! I'd like to see some common sense used to keep communities together when developing a new redistricting plan. Thank you. Judy Ratliff

Richard G Zimermann wrote:

I want to see each of 11 congressional districts with 9 nested delegate districts, the 100th delegate district straddling two big congressionals with the ‘surplus’ to populate it. Compact whole ‘COMMUNITIES of interest’ = PEOPLE in neighborhood school zones and PEOPLE in the same economic SMA localities for delegate, senate and congressional districts. - Congressional House districts and House of Delegates districts have always had the SAME individual voters. Qualifications for the US House are the same as for the "most numerous" state house, see US Const. Art. I Sec. 2. Represent 'We the people' living today, not the Articles delegates 'of places'. Their 'places' of sovereignty in US constitutional history were replaced by the sovereign 'people', when the Continental Congress adjourned itself sine die 1789, later unpleasantnesses notwithstanding. - Some senate DISTRICTS might straddle congressional districts, but the people are the community of interest, not the places. If each senate district averages 2.5 delegate districts (math), then every CD has 2-3 nested senate and 9 nested delegate districts. If senate district ‘straddlers’ are not in dense population ‘hubs’, perhaps two-thirds of Virginians will have the same delegate, state senator, and US representative as their elementary school zone neighbor, for the public good.

Mike Joseph wrote:

Dear Commissioners, I see that a new map "category" has been generated. This is suppose to represent the districts defined as competitive based on incorporating the election results of the 2020 Presidential Election. I believe that this iteration may be interesting to the curious, but does not necessarily reflect local issues of communities of interest. Introducing the election results of the 2020 presidential election reflects the national issues and dilutes the important state and local issues that are unique interests of local communities. The unique local community interests are up staged by national interests in a presidential election year. Also using this type of data makes it tempting to draw new districts into political districts without consideration to the other variables the voters wants. Using this data to draw the new district lines should not be considered and given zero weighting.

Neil Commerce wrote:

Hi, for starters, thank you for this effort. We, the citizens of Virginia, understand that this is a difficult, complicated process, with multiple (and sometimes conflicting) interests to be represented. That said, we overwhelmingly voted for this, because we believe it is the right thing to do. I believe the best thing that you can do is craft districts that are as competitive as possible in the general election. Districts in which the "real" election is the primary lead to a more polarized government, as candidates are incentivized to appeal to the hard-core base of their constituency to win the primary, and have no pressure to appeal broadly in the general election. This means you get candidates who serve a niche of their constituents, rather than a broad spectrum, and this is not good for Virginia. Some districts will be farther to the wings than others; that's fine and good, as different regions of the state are different, but across the board, it would be better if candidates had work as hard as possible in the general election. This would lead to elected officials with more buy-in from their constituents, and more broad-based policy making across the board. Thank you, again. Neil Commerce, Herndon

Tim Stevens wrote:

I would like to see the City of Falls Church combined with the Arlington Senate district. This would return us to the prior arrangement when Sen. Whipple was in office. Falls Church City tends to have much more in common politically with Arlington than other areas of Northern Virginia. Thank you for your work.

Charlie Thomas wrote:

Good afternoon! I completely agree with the "Incumbents Do Not Matter" comment. Virginia voters matter, not sitting politicians. Consideration of incumbents' addresses politicizes and corrupts the redrawing process. Worse, it undermines voters’ trust in the new Virginia Redistricting Commission. Thank you for your consideration.

S. Jones wrote:

Good morning, I agree with the many other comments mentioning that incumbent addresses should NOT be considered in the redistricting process. This shouldn't be about protecting incumbents! This should be about fair representation of all Virginians! Thank you!

Chris Buchheit wrote:

Good morning! I feel the need to remind the Commission once more that we did not vote this amendment into the Commonwealth's constitution to protect incumbents. We voted this amendment in to properly represent all Virginians. We do not care whether incumbents are unhappy with being placed in the same districts - this just goes to show how gerrymandered Virginia has been for years. Respectfully, do not draw or approve the maps with incumbent addresses in mind - the *only* thing the Commission should keep in mind is how to best represent Virginians. Very Respectfully, Chris Buchheit

Rev. Stan Farthing wrote:

Dear commissioners: Thanks for your hard work so far! I saw the draft map for Northern Virginia, and I think it makes a LOT more sense than the current map. I have previously submitted a comment suggesting that no precinct should be divided; that a municipality should not be divided unless its population is greater than the recommended population for a district; and that a district should not be divided among media markets unless the population of the media market is not enough to equal the recommended population for the district. I realized, however, that I forgot a criterion that I had previously been thinking about. One should be able to travel to all parts of the district on the public roads of the Commonwealth without having to enter another district. Again, thanks for your work, and for the apparent care that you are taking in doing it. Stan F

JACK SCHEIBLE wrote:

The combined populations of Arlington (238,643) , Alexandria (159,467), Fairfax (1,150,309), and Fairfax City (24,146) is 1,572,565. And that is, indeed, just over 18% of the Commonwealth's population, so 18 HOD seats is appropriate. However, the sum of the HOD populations in the "A1 NOVA HOD data tables COR.xlsx" is only 1,467,788. That's only 17%, so should be 17 seats, not 18. Please explain the population discrepancy.

Anand Edward Beh wrote:

The commission must start from a blank map, rather than continuing with the old one. Beginning from a clean slate is an essential element in the success of this commission, for Virginia, for our society. The erosion of political institutions is a continuing threat to the state of Virginia and the United States as a whole. Here is the opportunity for Virginia to set a new precedent and re-invigorate an aspect of our democracy. To this end, the commission must begin by drawing new districts. We cannot proceed in good health from the decrepit, ill-intentioned districts of old. Done right, a completely new map is in the best interests of our society and democracy. Engaged citizens are watching this matter intently. This commission has the ability to do what is right by creating fairly-drawn districts. Don't let the people of Virginia down. The good of society is more important than personal gain. Strive to do your very best, and work for excellence, at all times.

Sherry Skinner wrote:

The Columbia Pike Corridor is South Arlington's Main Street and needs representation with political cohesion to benefit the shared socio-economic status of those living along the Pike. It is imperative that South Arlington not be divided up for representation along with affluent north Arlington districts as South Arlington's unique needs will be neglected.

Paul Berry wrote:

The maps that have been reviewed thus far by both the Republican and Democratic consultants demonstrate a serious risk to the Latino community in the Commonwealth. In the strongest possible terms, I encourage the commission to alter any final result to bring greater equity to bear. Specifically, the current maps draw the only two elected Latinos *in the entire Commonwealth* out of their districts. While some may argue that doing so still creates majority-minority Latino districts, there is *no guarantee* that Latinos will win in those districts. Indeed, it is more likely that they will not: Latinos are a historically disenfranchised voting group with nearly *zero* presence at any level of civil service in state government, the lowest voter turnout rates, and the highest poverty rates in the Commonwealth. If the VRC approves maps that make it difficult for the only two legislators in Virginia's history who are Latino to compete in elections there would be a significant disadvantage to the Latino community in the Commonwealth that now numbers over 850,000 or 10.5% of the population. The seniority these two legislators have represents the only political currency of any kind in the General Assembly and it is unthinkable that good governance and equal representation would benefit if they were forced to compete under the maps as currently drawn. Furthermore, this may be a legal issue. If adopted as the consultants drew them, it could (and likely will) be argued that the maps are creating multiple Voting Rights Act violations. Several state and national Latino organizations are discussing legal strategies to that effect and will be commenting publicly to the VRC in the coming days and weeks. As Chair of the Virginia Latino Advisory Board I ask that you not interpret this as anecdote; there are serious conversations taking place that will emerge as legal challenges if greater attention is not given to retaining what little representative power Latinos have in Virginia.

Sara Fitzgerald wrote:

I want to echo Co-Chair Babichenko's comments at the September 9 meeting that the draft maps for Northern Virginia are already an improvement over the current maps because they recognize existing jurisdictional boundaries and have been proposed and discussed in the "sunshine." I appreciate that the co-chairs are wrestling with figuring out the best process for getting drafts proposed, soliciting and managing public comments, and then processing those comments into the final maps. While changes in announced hearings and schedules are unfortunate, I want to express appreciation and support, as Delegate McQuinn did, for the way the two co-chairs appear to be working together, providing leadership, and steering the commission through its first months of operation.

Sara Fitzgerald wrote:

After listening to the commission's professional map makers discuss their proposals for Northern Virginia, I suggest the Commission consider changing its instructions for permissible population deviation. As noted at the meeting, the courts have upheld a deviation of plus or minus five percentage points. If, for instance, Loudoun County or Arlington County could be divided into a set number of districts by following that more relaxed standard, why not let the map makers do it. This would elevate the preservation of jurisdictional boundaries as a reasonable goal for all parts of the state, and eliminate small slivers being tacked on to a bigger jurisdiction. While it is important to preserve the concept of one person, one vote, this approach would give the map mapers a bit more flexiblity to draw sensible lines and avoid some of the issues of the past. This is an approach that could be discussed with your counsels and map makers to determine if they have any concerns.

James Nicol wrote:

I second Mr. James Wright's comment. There is no reason to continue to split Lynchburg between multiple districts. The Lynchburg community deserves compact and representative district maps

James W. Wright wrote:

Previous redistricting has divided Lynchburg between tow senate districts and two house districts, thereby unfairly diluting Lynchburg's voice in the General Assembly. We are a community of interest and wish to speak as one voice in Richmond. I ask the Commission to restore Lynchburg's historic position as a single voting district. Thanks to the Commission for its work.

Elaine Braverman wrote:

In discussing his maps, Senator Barker mentioned that he had discussed them with Delegate Ransone. If this was a private conversation, it appears to violate the Commission's guidelines.

Chris DeRosa wrote:

I am unable to comment in person, so I am submitting this via this portal. I was shocked that Ken Strasma, map-drawer, requested incumbent addresses from the Redistricting Data Hub to evaluate his draft B2 maps for Senate and House. It is unclear who directed him to request that data - was it the Democrat legal team or counsel (Crayton? Hebert?) ? Was it a legislator? As Co-chairs Babichenko and Harris clearly stated, the criteria document says that incumbent addresses MAY be used, but no directive was given to the map drawers. If and when such data is used/requested, it should come through the Commission via DLS. Based on this information revealed today, then I suggest that B2 maps NOT be considered going forward. They are tainted, in my opinion.

James Fox wrote:

Thank you for the critical public service you are providing though your work on redistricting. Please consider including a test for gerrymandering during your important deliberations. See the updated Guide to Fair Redistricting. https://preprints.apsanet.org/engage/api-gateway/apsa/assets/orp/resource/item/6138e4f565db1ec5eab053ec/original/fair-and-square-redistricting.pdf (More than 1650 views and 950 downloads on the American Political Science Association Preprints Page) Respectfully and Gratefully, Jim Fox

JoAnn Kennedy Flanagan wrote:

As of 9/9/2021, Citygate is showing the old, 2011 US Congressional map. It should be labeled as such for the public until 2021 drafts are available.

Rees Shearer wrote:

Sen. Barker has stepped across a line. The Commission should not consider his self-interest-driven map. The Commission is charged to draw district lines for citizens' interests, not the interests of incumbent legislators. Period.

Ankit Jain wrote:

I am a citizen from Fairfax County looking for fair maps. I am asking that you do not alter the maps proposed by the mapmakers for the purpose of protecting incumbents. The current maps are very gerrymandered. Drawing fair maps will inevitably result in incumbents drawn out of their districts, as their current districts are crazy squiggles that allow for several incumbents to live right next to each other. This is too bad, but drawing fair maps should always(!) take priority over protecting incumbents. I am asking the commission to reject any attempt to alter these maps to protect incumbents. I hope that the map that Sen. Barker drew to protect his own skin at the expense of the state does not even get a hearing--to adopt those maps would be the exact opposite of what this Commission should be doing. We are watching, and there will be a large backlash if you do in fact alter the maps to protect incumbents.

Alex Killey wrote:

Hello, I designed this map with incumbent residency in mind as well as minimizes county a municipal splits. There are two districts in the south of the state where African Americans should be able to elect candidates of their choice. Competitiveness was also included as a goal in some of the districts. Thank you. Link: https://davesredistricting.org/join/63202efe-36bd-43d7-9ec4-abeee8dfd3f5

Megan wrote:

Please keep stafford and fredericksburg and the city's around it together

Judith E. Brown wrote:

I was shocked during your Sep. 2 meeting! Legislators repeatedly used the terms "my district", "her district", "your district", etc. A Legislative District does not belong to the incumbent. Each district belongs to its residents. Please watch your language! And please find a way to help each other use the correct words.

Terry Ouverson wrote:

I agree with maps that maximize compact areas with one exception. Boundaries should consider city and county boundaries because city and county governments should not have their impact split across Representatives.

Bryce Leonardo wrote:

I have only lived in Chesapeake for a year now after leaving for 9 years to live in NC and now returning. Never have a I ever seen anything worse then the 4th US Congressional District of VA. Having a district that starts in Richmond heads south to the border of VA and NC and then loops around several cities to divide Chesapeake in half. How anyone could have drawn a district like this to represent 3 completely different geographical areas with people who's concerns for not only themselves but for VA as a whole do not relate is mind blowing. How can what happens in Richmond, VA some 90+ miles away from Chesapeake, VA be anywhere remotely in common. One area is very well mixed culturally, economically and socially and bares the weight of incoming and outgoing military members and families on a constant basis. To divide one of the largest cities in the state of VA and pair it with one that is not even in the same geographical area with similar geographical needs is ridiculous. The other glaring issue is that the nearest office of the 4th Congressional District Representative Mr. McEachin, The Hampton Roads Office, is in the heart of Suffolk not anywhere near where the majority of the Congressman's constituents live in Chesapeake. It is situations like this one and others that I hope that the commission takes a hard look at the redistricting of all Districts both for state office positions and federal office positions our Representatives should represent the people of the district they serve not just half. And we should not cut cities in half and merge them with others just to hurt their "Political party affiliation" being able to have representation at all levels of Government. We must restore the American Idea of a "Government of the People, By the People, For the People." otherwise we will truly lose this great experiment call the American Republic.

Chris Buchheit wrote:

Hello, I'm commenting in response to something that was said in today's meeting - specifically that the map drawers would be happy to work with the politicians on the committee to help ensure the districts "work better" for them. Please do not let this happen. Regardless of party, I do not care what the incumbents think about their districts. This is about ensuring adequate representation for the voters, not protecting incumbents. Please make sure the maps are for that purpose and that purpose only. Thank you so much. Very Respectfully, Chris Buchheit

Melanie wrote:

Please don’t start the redistricting process with the current gerrymandered map we’ve hated to live with this last decade. It’s wrong! Start new, fresh and make sure every vote truly can & will count.

Kent Bress wrote:

Last year the citizens of Virginia did something amazing. They overcame the obstacles to add a new amendment to the Virginia Constitution to create the commission you now serve on. Thank you for your service. Now you must honor their intent by creating new voting districts that will allow the people to elect their representatives, not the other way around. In these divided times there are many cynics who believe that no process involving a politician of the opposing party can be legitimate. By virtue of your position on the commission, you can prove the cynics wrong. Do not fail them. Stand up to the politicians on your commission! You equal them in number, so be united in your purpose. Fair Districts for Virginia!

Chris DeRosa wrote:

Dear Commissioners and DLS staff, I hope that all of you are well. I am looking forward to hearing a report from the Communications team that has been contracted by this Commission. Many of us have been eagerly anticipating improvements and changes in the outreach to the public - specifically, a more user-friendly website, as well as a more robust publicity effort. Thus far, I have been disappointed that I haven't seen any signs of greater outreach. For example, tomorrow's meeting agenda was posted only a few hours ago - only about an hour prior to the deadline for signing up to speak virtually. I was not aware of the agenda items and thus did not sign up to speak. Many other Virginians were also "in the dark". This should change. Might I also suggest that the deadline to sign up to speak virtually be extended - to perhaps 4 hours or even 8 hours prior to the meeting, rather than 24 hours. I hope that changes will be visible soon - including: -organizing and sorting written public comments -establishing a robust social media presence including Facebook -providing information about meetings in a more timely fashion, including agendas and materials - providing greater access to all Virginians, including providing closed captioning, as well as sign language interpreters and other language interpreters (as Michigan's Redistricting Commission does) (https://www.michigan.gov/documents/micrc/MICRC_Mtg2_Notice_Sept_2_734005_7.pdf) -utilizing the email distribution list to provide greater information in a timely manner Thank you. As always, I thank you for your dedication and service on this very important commission and your dedication to keeping the public's interest in mind as your proceed.

Chris DeRosa wrote:

Hello. I see that the agenda has been posted for the Sep 2nd mtg. I also see that Mr. Morgan and Mr. Strasma will present on "initial No VA maps". Looking at the maps, I see they are CURRENT MAPS (CD, Senate, House). The Commission voted to NOT start with current maps, but to start "fresh" instead. I hope my suspicions are allayed during the presentation; however, I am concerned that the presentation will center around current maps.

Michael Clancy wrote:

Here is another version of a Congressional map: https://davesredistricting.org/join/6f4979a0-7b1f-437e-8dd7-c801cffc4448 Focusing on northern Virginia, based on the 2016 electoral results: Blue is competitive (with a lean towards D), Green is R, Purple is heavy D, Orange is heavy D, and Yellow is competitive.

Michael Clancy wrote:

Dear Commissioners, Best wishes for the speedy recovery for the member with COVID and best wishes for the continued health of all members. As emphasized by OneVirginia, the League of Woman Voters, other voting advocacy groups and virtually every single citizen who has testified or submitted comments, the voters want politically competitive districts. Voters want their vote to have meaning. Indeed that is the point of elections: Government by the people. While competitive districts may not be possible in every locality (for example, in Arlington, Alexandria and southwest Virginia), the Commission should strive to maximize the number of competitive districts, including in northern Virginia. The decision to disregard the current districts and draw districts based on a blank map is a key first step to eliminating gerrymandered districts and maximizing competitive districts. Focusing on the Congressional districts, please strive to establish competitive districts in northern Virginia. Here is a link to a map showing competitive districts. See https://districtr.org/plan/41238 Blue is the new competitive 10th. It encompasses Reston, Herndon and precincts west and south, and reflects a mix of Democratic party majority and Republican party majority precincts. Green is the new 11th, which is more competitive than the current 11th. Mauve is the new competitive 1st. Yellow is the new 8th. It encompasses Arlington, Alexandria, Falls Church, Vienna and McLean. Thank you for your consideration and your dedication to this project of redistricting. Michael Clancy

Teresa Stanley wrote:

I want to again thank the Commissioners who are voting to make this process fair and transparent for all Virginians. Your service is of great importance in creating a new culture of transparency. Please start from scratch and do not use old maps. Map drawers should be neutral and nonpartisan and should not include any incumbents or current legislators. Your deliberations and decision making should be done in public meetings and avoid any impression of protecting incumbent legislators. All newly created maps, materials, and other critical information should be shared with the public at least 3 business days before meeting and hearings. Time to do away with gerrymandering in Virginia!

Jack Bengtsson wrote:

I have attached a link to congressional map below. I created it one day, just for the heck of it, on Dave's Redistricting app. I should let you know that I belong to no political organization. Therefore, there is no intended political bias to this map. The only criteria I used was population, geographic commonality (which inevitably includes some cultural and economic commonality as well), with allowances for minority commonality and representation. I think you'll find it a little more regional than the current maps. There is some incumbent displacement associated with this map, but I doubt that is part of criteria anyway. The result of that is that, perhaps, it opens up a couple other parts of the State to some representation that it didn't have before. For example, in this map, there is now a district in the North Central area. Prince William County and surrounding area now has it's own district. And, as I separated Norfolk from Virginia Beach, the SE corner has it's own district, Va. Beach, Suffolk, Chesapeake. Do with it what you will. Perhaps it'll give you some ideas. I drew it, I might as well share it. Good Luck https://davesredistricting.org/join/d70c52be-a8fe-47ed-81ed-dabec3d5cffc

Judith E. Brown wrote:

The process in Michigan is fascinating! Hope you can spend a little time watching, as I did this afternoon. They will meet again tomorrow 10am-5pm (EDT) https://www.michigan.gov/documents/micrc/MICRC_Mtg_Notice_Aug_31_734002_7.pdf They are meeting almost daily....

Sarah Creel wrote:

I was flabbergasted to learn that Virginia's new Redistricting Commission is considering using the old, gerrymandered voting maps as a starting point for the maps that will determine our voting districts for the next decade. This makes no sense whatsoever! Virginians expect a new approach to drawing voting maps, and we voted overwhelmingly for a new start in the November 2020 election. If you're serious about changing Virginia for the better and giving voters what we've asked for, please DO NOT START THE REDISTRICTING PROCESS WITH OLD MAPS. Thank you.

Zeke Crater wrote:

I live just outside Charlottesville, which is my community. My current congressional district reaches from North Carolina to almost Maryland. Both are wonderful areas of Virginia, but both are outside my community of Charlottesville, Albemarle, Orange, and Louisa counties. My 25th state senate district and my 25th state house district both reach West Virginia. In my tiny church, my fellow parishioners are divided into four separate state house districts. My own 25th house district separates me from my Charlottesville community. Please redistrict Virginia so that I may share the same representative as my community.

Noelle Dwyer wrote:

Thank you for taking on this hard work. Please do not consider the addresses of current legislators or those running for office. Your commission should be completely independent of VA Congress members and delegates, that’s what the citizens voted for. Please make the districts compact, along city and/or county lines, and keep communities of interest together rather than slicing them up. Thank you.

Bobby Dunigan wrote:

Thanks to all for undertaking this redistricting project. As a lifelong resident of southern Stafford County, I would like to see Stafford, Spotsylvania and King George included together in this process. I also think Stafford's county line should be contiguous and not be included with any portion of Prince William county. I believe the people in this group share similar interests, lifestyles, diversity, etc. and would be well served by doing so. Thank you and may God bless our State and Country.

Fran Larkins wrote:

Have you given consideration to how and when you will use maps that are submitted to the Commission from the public? Will you accept maps using Representable, Districtr, and Dave’s in addition to the Citygate software? Many citizens are drawing their “communities of interest” using Representable. If you wait until the end, it may be too late to incorporate these ideas into maps being prepared by the map drawers. It would be a terrible waste of time and energy and a disappointment for citizens if their suggestions are dismissed off-hand. On that note, when will the communications and outreach consultants begin their work? Thank you!

Martha Hicks wrote:

Lynchburg should not be grouped with Bedford or Campbell Counties. Or city has very little in common with those two counties.

Daisy Judith Keith wrote:

I am a long time resident of Virginia and I always vote. I am writing about the drawing of 2021 voting maps. I, and the overwhelming majority of other Virginians, voted in 2020 for meaningful change in voting districts. New voting maps SHOULD NOT be based on old 2011 discriminatory and divisive voting maps because then the discrimination and divisiveness will just be perpetuated. Timelines should not interfere with drawing fair voting maps. Computer map drawing produces maps quickly, once the map criteria are set. We will have fairer elections based on fairer maps that are based on current data, and that is the result Virginians like myself want and voted for. Sincerely, Daisy Judith Keith Fairfax City, Fairfax County, Virginia

Michael Clancy wrote:

What is the projected date for when draft maps of the state and congressional districts will be available to the public? Thank you.

Margaret Van Yahres wrote:

Thank you for throwing away the old boundaries and starting over again. Please draw districts that are compact, contiguous, and communities of interest, similar to our planning districts. Thanks for your overwhelming work

Judith K. Sanders wrote:

All of "greater Fredericksburg " should be in the same congressional district. From Wilderness in the West to Ferry Farms in the East, from Berea North of the Rappahannock to Southpoint; we're all affected by the same infrastructure, traffic, & environmental problems. Being cut up into multiple districts makes any improvement much harder.

Edward Novak wrote:

Could the commission use a computer technology that would divide areas up utilizing county and city data?

Richard Hagen wrote:

I drove up from Virginia Beach to attend this mornings meeting. I was very pleased to see that the majority of Commission members voted to start from a blank slate and not bother wasting time with the old maps. This will help the 'Plane land sooner'. I was struck by the portrait of Thomas Jefferson over looking the proceedings. It reminded me of how our Founders, while not perfect, usually put patrician politics aside for the good of the people and to up hold their new revolutionary principals as listed in our founding documents. I would ask each member of the Commission to do the same. While working on the very important process of redistricting, please put aside your Political affiliation and think of yourself as a US and Virginia citizen only. Do not consider what the General Assembly will do. Ask your self what would Washington and Jefferson do. Thank you for indulging my little sermon and for the good work today. Be Well

Leo Watkins wrote:

Congratulations on your decision to draw the maps from scratch. Thank you. Your actions give citizens hope. Please continue your good work in increasing the public trust by using a non partisan consultant and mathematical audit of the state as part of your map drawing process. Keep up the good work. We're counting on you! Thanks. Leo Watkins

John wrote:

I cannot not add anything notably different from the majority of the comments submitted other than to heartily support unbiased, not partisan, fair decisions that result in fair, equal, community-focused lines that define democracy.

Rubyjean Gould wrote:

Please, I strongly support the drawing of new district maps using algorithm's to identify preferred standards and having them professionally drawn. Proceed to hire A-partisan graphic specialists to render the maps. This would be key to fair representation of our electorate. Thank you, Rubyjean Gould

Betty OGarr wrote:

I don't know how you came to the understanding that people do not care but that statement is outrageously incorrect. Send out a survey to EVERYONE and you will see the majority of people do care. Please start drawing your lines on a clean slate and use the verified correct data while doing that. This is too important not to. A concerned citizen, Betty O'Garr

Arielou Marcy wrote:

DO not start from gerrymandered maps. PLEASE we are trying to be a true democracy. Do not consider incumbent addresses. PLEASE and THANK YOU

Sabina D Weitzman wrote:

I am so grateful to the commission's citizen members who spoke on my behalf this morning, reminding elected officials of the people's urgent demands. First, that the work of drawing maps - and all that happens in support of that work - be conducted in public. Second, that your starting point will not be the last decade's gerrymandered maps. Your voices, respectful but urgently presented to your fellow commissioners, won the day. Thank you, citizen commissioners! I think it was Sen. Simon who described the path forward as either adversarial or collaborative. I very much hope the commission will at least begin their work collaboratively and look to a non-partisan academic map-drawer like the Tufts University Redistricting Lab led by Moon Duchin to generate and evaluate maps based on criteria you will flesh out. The adversarial path is part of the path envisioned in the constitutional amendment that created the commission, hence even rather than proportional representation for the parties. However, beginning with partisan horse-trading will lead directly to gerrymandered carve-ups. Start with criteria, see where this takes you, and - with possible maps in front of you - make your arguments about why district boundaries are unfair. Today seemed like an important pivot in the right direction. Bravo!

Lillian Clementi wrote:

Senator Barker is flat wrong. I care. My neighbors care. The thousands of Virginians who supported the OneVirginia2021 reform effort care. We're all watching, and we'll all remember when it's time to vote. I voted against Mark Levine precisely because of his opposition to fair redistricting, and I imagine there are people in many districts who feel the same. The strong YES vote last November should put Senator Barker on notice that times have changed. Do NOT start from gerrymandered maps. Do NOT consider incumbent addresses. Stop politicking and draw fair districts. All of Virginia is watching. And the Virginia Supreme Court is waiting in the wings. Lillian Clementi Arlington

Heywood Greenberg wrote:

Nelson County was split into two House of Delegate districts in 2010. This resulted in a dilution of the county's influence on our representatives to the point that we have rarely seen or received communications from our two Delegates. Reunifying the county into a single House district would give the citizens more influence on their delegate and cause him or her to pay more attention to the county's needs, regardless of which party the delegate is in.

Elizabeth B Laundon wrote:

Please do keep towns and cities in one Congressional/ one Senate district. Start with fresh maps and do not consider addresses of incumbants. Use the help of professionals with computer algorithms to draw contiguous, compact, proportional districts, as least as a start.

Patricia Moore wrote:

Please hire three map experts to help redraw the voting districts in Virginia, and start from scratch to draw fair and well-apportioned districts, instead of using existing (and, in some cases gerrymandered) districts. I would also like to request that Lynchburg remain totally in one district.

Rebecca Phillips wrote:

As a Greene County citizen of the 5th District, I find the current district lines WAY out of bounds. And I'm sure the citizens of Danville would agree! Districts should be configured to be representative of the area in which we live. This benefits both the citizen and the elected representative. How can one person truly represent the interests of a gerrymandered district? Help restore democracy by fair voting districts and effective representation.

Linda Rice wrote:

Dear Commission Members, I worked for 8 years to promote and advocate for an independent redistricting commission. I am greatly disturbed by the partisan bickering reported by the press among your members. Virginians want maps drawn that use the new census data which is demonstrated by the overwhelmingly support to establish this commission. You need to remember that your efforts should reflect the desire of most Virginians to have maps that are not gerrymandered. I and my neighbors do not want you to shun your responsibility and send the action to the courts. Step up to your responsibility!!

Bonnie Price Lofton wrote:

I live in Greene County. My mother lives in Rappahannock County. My son lives in Franklin County. We are many hours' drive apart. Yet we are all currently in the same voting district! This gerrymandering has to stop. It makes our democratic system look like some kind of mafia setup. Please draw the districts in a sensible continguous manner that any reasonable voter can recognize to be fair. That means not purposely drawing lines to reduce the voting impact of certain liberal-collegiate cities or to maintain the voting power of majority black areas. It also means keeping districts within decent driving distance (like 90 minutes in any direction) to make it reasonably accessible for candidates who need to campaign or meet with constituents. Thank you!

Chris Anderson wrote:

In light of recent comments from a commission member (along lines of the public not paying attention to the topic of mapping in Virginia) ,I’d like to request that the commission reject that false assumption. Perhaps the system designed to elicit comments from the public - on the complex topic of mapping and voting - is problematic? My experience is that once people understand the stakes involved, regardless of their party affiliation, they are shocked by the thought of districts that have been gerrymandered by politicians. Here is a link to an editorial I submitted to the Washington Post, which was printed in the Sunday edition on August 22, 2021: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/letters-to-the-editor/the-virginia-redistricting-commission-is-moving-in-the-wrong-direction/2021/08/20/cacfb22c-fbac-11eb-911c-524bc8b68f17_story.html I’d also like to share the words of an award-winning song I wrote about gerrymandering (and a link, should you care to listen.) It has been performed in front of very receptive live audiences in Virginia, and used in a documentary and podcast which aired in Virginia: https://chris-anderson.info/chris-anderson-just-change-the-boundary/ My point is this: would you know about my interest in redistricting if I had not filled out this online form? The public participation in your mapping process may be low, but that does NOT mean the public is uninterested in having free and fair elections. It only means they don't feel like mapping experts. We, the people, do NOT want political party considerations included - in any form - when drawing maps for the purpose of electing representatives. Please have actual experts design fair maps based on logic - and leave out the politics. Sincerely, Chris Anderson P.O. Box 56546 Virginia Beach, VA 23456 Email: candersonmail5@gmail.com Phone: 571-308-8637

Janet mcconnell wrote:

I want you to redistricting that is done fairly. I believe there would be better representation if lines for districts were drawn that represent fairness not gerrymandering. This is important for democracy. I will be watching to see how this is completed.

Marilyn Adams wrote:

Thank you for the work you are doing. Please know that many of us are interested and concerned that the process be as fair and unbiased as possible. I strongly encourage you to hire a nonpartisan map-drawer and start the redistricting process fresh with brand new maps, rather than by using the current maps as a starting point. Thank you.

Tina wrote:

I have worked with organizations to end gerrymandering in Virginia for 6 years. When the amendment passed by a large majority of Virginia voters, the level of interest was resounding, and the task given to the Commission was clear: work TOGETHER to draw NEW boundaries that keep communities together and eliminate partisan bias. Virginia citizens should not have to be physically present at every meeting to ensure the Commission is fulfilling their duty. Let history judge this first Redistricting Commission as Brave, Innovative, and Nonpartisan!

Mary-Helen Sullivan wrote:

I was appalled to read that some members of the commission think that Virginia citizens in general don't care about the redistricting process and whether or not it's fair. I have not supported the efforts to change the redistricting process only to have incumbent legislators once again draw districts to guarantee their reelection. That is not democracy! I would very much appreciate your working much harder for a bipartisan approach and for fair and compact districts!

Chris Burton wrote:

1. Know that many Virginians deem your work vitally important for a better Commonwealth. We're looking for integrity from the commission. 2. I want to urge you to make sure that the new maps are completely collaborative with 2 citizen representatives from each party, 1 Senator from each party, and 1 Delegate from each party for both the Senate and House maps.

Bertha G. Myrick wrote:

I respectfully urge the use of blank maps as a starting point for drawing district lines. Please start afresh. It is imperative that com- munities of interest be preserved when drawing new legislative district maps. In order to prosper, Virginia Beach needs to be unified, not divided. Please hire map drawers to help draw new maps. Thank you.

Chris DeRosa wrote:

Dear Commissioners, I have heard that at least one Commissioner has stated that very few Virginians are paying attention to the redistricting work that you are doing. I might agree that the number of people attending meetings and hearings in person has been less than what we had hoped - this despite the tireless efforts of myself and others (individuals and organizations) to encourage public participation. Perhaps if we had had a Communications expert "on board" three months ago, more Virginians would have been aware of these meetings and hearings. I hope that we will see more robust and widespread engagement in the coming weeks. Make no mistake - Virginians are watching and listening. I note that over 300 pages of information and testimony have been submitted via email. Many others are listed in individual meeting sites. The public portal on the Commission website is a new tool that more Virginians are using to communicate with you. In less than 4 weeks, 125 comments have been submitted - the number has been growing (from 33 the first two weeks to 92 during the past 11 days). I hope that you have read them all. Our voices (should) matter. As you meet on Monday, I hope that you will keep the citizens and voters and residents of Virginia in mind. They have told you loudly and emphatically to take partisanship and politics out of this process; hire a nonpartisan map drawer; respect our communities of interest; do not start from existing maps - start fresh! Thank you.

Janice morris wrote:

It may seem like VA voters are not paying attention but we are. Please choose one bi-partisan map maker to draw the maps. You can do this. Put principle before politics and show true courage. We have faith in you. All the best, Janice Morris

Roberta Falquet wrote:

While my husband and I cannot attend your meeting of August 23, 2021, we are paying close attention to your actions. Do not mistake our absence as a lack of interest. We have worked hard these past several years to make fair redistricting possible. We are dismayed with your efforts so far. Politics as usual seems to be your guiding principle. Shame on you. That is not what we nor our fellow citizens voted for nor expect. You are charged with drawing free and fair electoral maps that fairly represent the citizens of this Commonwealth not politicians. This has been done in many places around the country and can happen here. Start fresh. Stop the nonsense. You're charge is to represent the people of this state, not one party or another.

Nancy Wilbert wrote:

I would like to share my strong hope that you draw new maps and not re-adjust the present gerrymandered maps, I also sincerely hope you will hire non-partisan, professional, expert map drawers. Please approach this job fairly and unbiased. So much is at stake. This job is so important, I care. Thank you.

Denise Koch wrote:

Dear Commissioners I am a citizen of James city county and a member of the League of Women Voters who is following this process I would like to advocate for creating completely new maps and using non partisan map makers such as our university students to create maps that would be fair to all Commonwealth voters Sincerely Denise Koch James City

Gerald Swerling wrote:

Contrary to what was said in a recent meeting, lots of people are watching your actions, and are appalled at the obvious attempts to politicize the process and ignore the will of the voters who approved it in the first place. Gerald Swerling Richmond

Janet Bing wrote:

Given how current districts currently divide communities of interest and include areas from different towns and cities, I urge the Commission to start from scratch when drawing the maps.

Richard Hagen wrote:

I would like to comment on meeting attendance. I was able to attend the public meeting in Norfolk and listened in on several others. I and many other concerned Virginians would like to attend all your meetings but often cannot. Many of your meetings are at times and locations where it is difficult to attend. For example your 8 am meeting in Richmond is difficult for someone in Virginia Beach to get there. Also, the ongoing Covid crisis is another road block to face to face meetings. If you add in work, children, medical conditions, etc. many of us cannot be physically present. We must depend on online comments and emails to present our opinions and views. I hope someone is reviewing the emails and tallying the opinions. I urge you to NOT see the lack of bodies at your meetings to mean that we are not interested and don't care. Remember the large percent of voters who passed the Amendment. Look at the number of emails and comments you receive. We are watching and hope you use our input to draw fair maps. Thank you for taking on this vital project.

Susan Roth wrote:

Thank you for your service on this commission. The citizens of our Commonwealth are counting on you to be fair and unbiased. Our democracy is presently very fragile and its continued existence depends upon this! For the sake of fairness, we ask that you draw new maps that make sense, not jiggle the present gerrymandered ones! To do the job right, we expect the commission to hire professional, non-partisan map drawers to assist in the redistricting, to ignore the present districts and not protect the incumbents. Thank you for your honorable service on this commission.

Richard C. Brown, MD wrote:

The commission must seek the professional help of experienced experts who know how to draw these districts fairly. This redistricting is important enough to be a constitutional mandate. The General Assembly members of the commission cannot be relied upon to make it fair. They of course will offer something which will be to the advantage of their party..........that's what politicians are supposed to do. Yet that is not what our new amendment was intended to allow. Get non political experts in to do it fairly and blindly, starting with new blank maps.

Marilyn Mendelson wrote:

I care. Let's keep partisanship out of this process and make it fair to all. Represent citizens justly. Stop the gerrymandering.

Fran Larkins wrote:

One of the reasons so many Virginians (65%) voted for the Constitutional Amendment to establish the Virginia Redistricting Commission is that they no longer wanted politicians to draw their own legislative districts and choose their own voters. If you ignore current maps, there should be less reason to be concerned about incumbent protection. I realize some of the citizen commissioners may feel the legislators on the Commission will give you the best advice on redistricting which can be a very complicated process. Please consider, however, in this instance, whether the “fox may be guarding the hen house.” Please vote on Monday that maps will not be drawn using the current maps that are so terribly gerrymandered. Thank you for your service on the Commission!

Martha Rollins wrote:

Yes! Start with new maps, of course. And the new maps need to focus on the demographics of the people. Omit the incumbent legislators. Respect local jurisdictions and keep communities together. Minimize split districts. Do not pretend that water is a connector of communities when the communities on other sides are different. The Commission was created in good faith by the voters to end political gerrymandering. Please do not fail to give us fair maps for the next General Assembly. Thank you sincerely: it’s important.

Judith E. Brown wrote:

First, thank you for the time and attention you are spending on this redistricting process -- on behalf of the residents of our Commonwealth. Please, please: 1 -- Please draw new maps for us. Don't just try to jiggle the old ones a little. Those maps don't make sense on the ground now, and they won't make sense with a few jiggles! 2-- Please get professional, non-partisan map drawers to help make your job do-able. I've listened to some of the "Masters" explain how they work. I've studied what the experienced specialists & centers at universities (Princeton and others) can offer. Please use them ! Give them guidance, and tell them your principles; then let them work their magic 3 -- We citizens remain deeply interested in the entire redistricting process. Please keep faith with us and do the best, fairest job you can. We will be grateful indeed.

Kari Buchanan wrote:

I watched much of the meetings last week. I was disheartened by some of the conversation. I cannot understand how difficult this is for the citizen commissioner. You have a huge weight upon you. We are counting on you to bring about fair maps. Ones that don’t represent the delegates and senators. Districts are for the people. I voted for the Constitutional Amendment, because in Virginia, we citizens cannot bring about a change to how the Commonwealth is governed unless it goes through the legislature. So I voted for a step in the right direction. We need this Commission to work for all of us. For your decisions on Monday, my ask is simple, start from scratch and hire one map drawer. We know there are strange pairings is districts. The only way to stop that is to forget the old maps. In reflecting on your decision to have two different map drawers, the Commission seemed to think the operative word was bipartisan. Stop wasting our money and make a hard decision that doesn’t say Republican or Democrat. A personal note to Senator Barker. Don’t minimize the citizens of this Commonwealth. We deserve better.

Neal G Sumerlin wrote:

The time to start making some important decisions is at hand! Please consider the following. Rather than beginning with the current district lines, start from scratch. Please revisit whether addresses of current legislators should play any part in how you draw maps. Consider hiring some outside help in map drawing. Finally, please remember that even if "only a very small segment" of the population cares about what you are doing, your decisions affect all Virginians. Not just partisans, and not just legislators.

Pamela Stroh wrote:

Please use a fair system for redistricting. Everyone wants to be fairly represented in Congress and there's no excuse for having an unfair system. Especially when there are easily available algorithms for creating new, fair districts.

Sarah W. Dixon wrote:

There are Many Citizens of Virginia who DO care about fair redistricting and getting gerrymandering out of the process. We want a non-partisan commission to draw the lines. This is not about politics...this is about democracy where every vote counts. Please let Virginia lead the way for the rest of America in showing how we can have fair voting districts and allow for each person's vote to count. My own district was gerrymandered in the last "drawing of lines" and it goes from Tidewater all the way to Fredericksburg. WE DO CARE!!

Alice Moore wrote:

Please agree on one non-partisan map drawer who will start from scratch based on 2020 Census results. It's the only sensible path that gives the greatest chance for an accurate, fair outcome. Please.

Roberta Kiver wrote:

Last year I voted to establish a commission to draw up the voting districts for our state. Since our state is so severely Gerrymandered, it is important to do this in a meaningful way. I read that the commission is looking to use the old maps a starting point. I think this is a bad idea. The purpose of the vote for the commission was to take a fresh look at establishing the voting districts. Using computers to generate NEW voting districts based on fair criteria, should give districts that do not fracture communities and created “squiggly” districts that would favor one party over another. Fairer voting districts will give Virginians a fairer vote in future elections. Please take your time to get this serious job correct for us voters in Virginia.

Mary Anne Pugh wrote:

In posting on social media that “Trump Won” Virginia Trost-Thornton contributed to efforts to overturn a free and fair election and install her favored candidate, despite his losing the election. Not accepting election results is undemocratic behavior that she is likely to repeat to draw maps to suit her political preferences. I will have no confidence in the work of this board as long as she is a member. She must resign.

Kevin Utzy wrote:

We in Virginia wanted a bi-partisan commission. Not a partisan one. If you ladies and gentlemen cannot get your act together, quit and get people who can work together. Compromise works both ways with both parties. My goodness you can't agree on a lawyer or an independent map drawing group. Come on people grow up and settle your differences PLEASE for the love of god. And there is a lot more people paying attention than you think. Regards, Kevin R. Utzy Culpeper, VA

Melissa Ferrell wrote:

Yes, indeed, many people I know are very much in support of fair redistricting by our commission (made up of all of you). We are counting on you to put statesmanship before politics, an especially tall order these days, to which I expect you to rise to the occasion. I volunteered at the polls for OneVa2021 where I heard so much support from both republicans and democrats. I’ve talked to friends and family during all this time and hear the same. Why wouldn’t a citizen of these United States want to be fairly represented?!

Michael Clancy wrote:

As you draw the Congressional district maps, please address the 10 and 11th congressional districts in northern Virginia to make them politically competitive so that the voters can choose their representatives not vice versa. The overwhelming goal of the League of Women Voters, OneVirginia and the voters is politically competitive districts. The 11th is especially egregious. It was intentionally drawn, zig zagging across Fairfax County splitting neighborhoods and then turning south into Prince William County in order to heavily favor the democratic party incumbent. It will be a total failure of this process if the 11th district is not redrawn fairly to provide for a competitive electoral process instead of the current exercise of simply anointing the incumbent. It is simple to do: remove the Prince William County precincts, remove all the precincts inside of the Beltway (to the east of the Beltway), and move the district west/outside of the Beltway and incorporate precincts from Loudoun County. Each of you can easily draw districts at https://districtr.org/virginia. Thank you for your consideration and your commitment to the important work ahead.

Michael Clancy wrote:

Please post the final version of the Commission Guidelines document on your website. Also, please identify the two map drawers. Thank you

David P Culp wrote:

Thank you for taking on the challenge of drawing new election districts for Virginia. Virginians voted to change the old system in the hope that the system can be made as impartial, fair, and representative as possible. I am writing as a resident of the Mantua area in Fairfax County who considers himself an independent and a small “D” democrat. I am a member of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Fairfax; one of my faith’s principles is to promote the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our in society at large. To that end, I encourage the Redistricting Commission to take on its job with a totally clean slate, as much as possible. Specifically, I ask that the Commission reject any reliance on the existing voting maps as you draw new voting maps. The old maps reflected gerrymandering, which is the main reason Virginia wanted to have a commission do the job now. The old voting maps fractured communities, and perpetuated districts that favor incumbents over challengers. With current technology, the Commission has the tools necessary to draw maps that can fairly reflect the current population of the state, without regard to past voting patterns. Please do so. Thank you David Culp Fairfax, Virginia

Meghan Crowley wrote:

Dear Commission, I am a Virginia citizen who voted in favor of the redistricting commission. However, I am gravely concerned by the current proposal to begin the commission's work with the old voting maps. Our old voting maps fractured communities and interfered with good governance in the state. Furthermore, starting to draw our 2021 maps based on 2011 voting maps will perpetuate districts that favor incumbents over challengers. Any purported time constraints are irrelevant, as fidelity to a balanced, fair process is paramount. Furthermore, computer map drawing produces maps quickly, once the map criteria are set. Think about the precedents that the commission is setting with each action, and ask yourself, "Is this decision in the best interest of ALL Virginia voters?" Our democracy needs competitive districts, which will come based on data analysis, not the old, non-competitive districts. Virginians expect a new approach to drawing voting maps, and voters (like me!) strongly endorsed a new start in the November 2020 election. How disappointing it will be if special interests and incumbents continue to hold sway over our democratic processes. Sincerely, Meghan Crowley

Douglas Borden wrote:

In 2020, Virginians voted for a new and fair approach to the voting districts. The old voting maps are based on outdated data and even then fractured communities and interfered with good governance in the state. Many communities were divided by the old maps. Urban areas were often cut up so that urban votes would be diluted in mostly suburban districts. The new maps for 2021, as required by law now, must start from fresh population data to provide fair representation to all communities and all segments of the Virginia voting populace. It takes little time for computer map drawing to generate new maps once the map criteria are set, so claiming time to produce the maps as rationale from starting from the 2011 maps is a falsehood. The very principles of our democracy call us to work for fair representation for everyone and for a level playing field for our elections. Political divides are difficult enough without created artificial geographic boundaries that make Virginia more politically divided. We can and must to better if we expect our elected officials to be more pragmatic in solving real world problems for all our citizens. Thank you in advance for your consideration of this perspective and for doing what is right for the citizens of Virginia. Regards, Douglas H Borden III Arlington, VA

Ann Speicher wrote:

Dear Commissioners: I am writing to urge you to create the new voting districts in Virginia on a nonpartisan basis. That's what the voters approved and I would expect it is what you feel obligated to provide. That means starting from scratch using the new census information, not basing the redistricting on the old boundaries with a few changes. I realize redistricting is a difficult process and the timing is short. But nonpartisan redistricting is what we need to help ensure fair, competitive elections.

Anne Moriarty wrote:

We don’t need partisan redistricting in VA. The commission should hire a non-partisan group to draw the maps. We’re watching!

Cyrelle Gerson wrote:

I am a constituent in Virginia and I am writing to call for true non-partisan map creators. Please discard existing gerrymandered maps completely, and do what the commission was formulated to do-- draw fair maps from scratch with clean contiguous borders wherever possible, not done for partisan advantage. I voted for new districts being drawn and I assumed any rational process would use current population maps, not just start with old partisan maps and move a few people around. I assure you, I am interested in fair redistricting.

Douglas Bishop wrote:

Zero gerrymandering. I was done in 22 minutes. https://districtr.org/plan/37107

Martha Ades wrote:

I voted for new districts being drawn and I assumed any rational process would use current population maps, not just start with old partisan maps and move a few people around. Please don't start with old maps. Start from scratch and draw non-partisan districts! My religious principals call me to work for democracy for everyone with a level playing field in our elections. We should have fair elections that are drawn on fair maps.

Anne M Beals wrote:

I assure you, I am interesting in fair redistricting, and I am LISTENING.

Jennifer Young wrote:

I am a constituent in Virginia and I am writing to call for true non-partisan map creators. Please discard existing gerrymandered maps completely, and do what the commission was formulated to do-- draw fair maps from scratch with clean contiguous borders wherever possible, not done for partisan advantage. I also call on legislators to stop cutting citizen members on the commission out of the process. Legislators' determination to disregard the citizens entirely in order gerrymander for political advantage will prove the entire process that the citizens of Virginia approved a total sham. Observe Sen. Barker's hot mic moment where he says to a commissioner "nobody cares" about redistricting. Au contraire, we do care. We demand an end to gerrymandering and to stop the reliance on cronyism and broken systems that allow legislators to choose their voters rather than voters choosing their legislators. https://youtu.be/fcAOcBIQfXo

Chris Buchheit wrote:

Hello, We voted this amendment to the Virginia Constitution because we were tired of politicians choosing its voters. Recreating maps on a partisan basis will be completely unacceptable to me, and it does not reflect the will of Virginia voters. The commission *must* take all efforts to make the maps reflective of Virginia's voters - not how the politicians want them to look. Anything less will be viewed as a sham and will be rejected by the voters. Very Respectfully, Chris Buchheit

Jonathon Wright wrote:

After the failed motion for hiring the University of Richmond Spatial Analysis Lab, I would like to strongly advocate for another round of legal counsel investigation for a single group of map drawers in a role specifically as the technicians operating GIS. The legal counsels, staff at DLS, and the commissioners would have full access to this group to guide the process to prevent any perceived shenanigans or partisan interests. The concept of reconciling two sets of partisan maps will likely lead this commission to failure.

Sherri Neil wrote:

For the purposes of redistricting, I agree that the prison population should be counted at the address they came from (if in Virginia) and not at the prison in which they are housed. Rural communities have already had an unfair advantage of bolstering their population numbers through the Census process of counting the prison inmates as part of the overall population of the county where they are being housed. When private prisons exploded in this nation and Virginia under Governor Allen, these prisons were all built in rural areas. Purposely, it was decided to count inmates in these institutions as being part of the population counts for these rural areas. Thus bolstering their population numbers, and providing an unfair allotment of federal and state funds that are allocated based on census counts, as well as giving them an increased number of representatives in Congress. Conversely, being that persons housed in these penal institutions are predominately black and brown people, that come from and will return to urban localities, those localities have been underfunded because of how census counts prison inmates, regardless of the fact that when they return home, that jurisdiction must provide services for them. Also, these jurisdictions are cheated out of proper representation in Congress due to this process. Therefore, it is only fair that by allowing the Virginia Redistricting Commission to count inmates based on their last address in Virginia, (especially for those that will be released) and not as a portion of the population in rural prisons merely helps to more fairly balance the scales that have been unfairly tilted in favor of the more rural areas, which (not coincidently) also tend to be more representative of the Republican party.

VDenise Harrington wrote:

Dear Commission, I live in Williamsburg James City County and my district is evenly split between at the congressional level Republicans and Democrats(Luria&Whitman). That is the same for the General Assembly. I am deeply concerned by Senator Parker‘s comments regarding 10% of African-Americans and moving them someplace with no political clout. Given Virginia’s history that is already a troubling comment. As an African American I would hate to be part of that 10% that would never have any political clout. Moreover I like my district just the way it is. Thank you VDenise Harrington

Chris DeRosa wrote:

With great interest, I read the responses which the Richmond GIS team provided to questions that were posed to the UR team (by the attorneys or the Commission or DLS?). I am very impressed with their responses - they have a wide-ranging set of technical expertise, a knowledge of Virginia's communities and history, and a clear ability to draw maps for redistricting purposes without a partisan motive or influence. This team should be selected by this Commission to assist with the drawing of our new #fairmaps. Thank you.

JoAnn Kennedy Flanagan wrote:

I'm writing to request that each and every commissioner, legislators as well as citizens, vote for a single, non-partisan map drawing team. This is the spirit of our new Redistricting Reform Amendment which you are charged with carrying out. Having each party draw their own maps didn't work in 2018 and is not likely to be successful now.

Fran Larkins wrote:

Please give strong consideration to the University of Richmond's Spatial Analysis Lab for the Commission's map drawing expertise. From this group's "responses to questions," they have an in-depth knowledge of Virginia; are academic experts in managing and analyzing Virginia spatial data, are familiar with the already established methods of tracking "communities of interest," and have suggested using "fairness report cards" an efficient approach to allow the commission "to point out problematic boundaries that need to be addressed." (This last as an option instead of an open-ended starter map approach.) Just because both law firms don't agree is not a reason to instead choose two competing map drawers, once again heading down the political path Virginians have said they don't want. Read the group's responses to questions thoroughly, and please use your good judgment to hire them.

Bill Millhouser wrote:

I am writing to request that the following information regarding the August 17 Commission meeting be posted on the Commission website ASAP. - A more informative agenda which clearly identifies decision points to be voted on at the meeting; I note that the agenda that has just been posted does not include discussion of selection of a map-drawing consultant—is this an oversight? - All materials germane to the issues to be voted on so that the public can understand and provide comments on the options that the Commission will be discussing and voting on. The lack of publicly available information for today’s meeting prevented the public from fully participating in the meeting as required by statute, For example, the agenda did not explain that key issues, with exception of the “Official Start Date” would only be discussed today, and that that votes on these issues would be held at Tuesday’s meeting. Again, with the exception of the alternative start date calendars, no materials were provided on the Commission website for any of the other topics discussed. The dearth of written materials make it impossible for the public to understand the various options that the Commission is considering and the pluses and minuses for each option. For example, the public had absolutely no idea what the Revised Criteria guidelines entailed when the commission engaged in a line-by-line discussion. Similarly, members of the public have no idea how the option of using the University of Richmond to draw maps came about. As a separate matter I urge the Commission to hire the University of Richmond or another Virginia-based entity to; this is the commonsense solution to ensuring fair map drawing from the start.

Janet Martin wrote:

Commission: As I watched the meeting today I was dismayed by a number of things. I wold like to highlight two of those issues. 1) Please do NOT choose two map drawers. If you allow there to be one Republican and one Democratic map drawer that will only enable incumbent protection to be implicitly baked in from the beginning. You must start from a neutral place in order for the citizens of the Commonwealth to have a fair chance at having their voice heard going forward. Also, you do not only have a binary choice of current maps or a blank sheet of paper, as was suggested by the Lawyers. There are plenty of options that will give you a more neutral starting point, like using other maps from 2011. 2) You MUST provide us with the same information as that which is being discussed in the committee. There was no way for the public to follow the discussion about the priorities that the committee is going to draw the maps with, and given your charge to have this be a transparent process, it seems a huge oversight. Please correct this going forward so the citizens of the Commonwealth can fully understand that what is going to happen to their districts. Thank you for all your hard work and looking forward to the meeting tomorrow a.m.

Karen Wolf wrote:

I'm a constituent, voter, and active in my UU congregation. Virginia voters voted in the new redistricting system because they want to see fairer, less gerrymandered elections. Our existing maps have made us one of the most gerrymandered states in the nation, with fractured communities -- why would want to perpetuate their use in any way? My UU religion calls me to work for democracy and justice, and fair elections are a cornerstone of that work. Good governance starts with good elections, and good elections start with good maps. Please don't use our old broken system to design our next system. Give Virginians something better. Best, Karen Wolf Fairfax, VA 22030 Lay Minister for Social Justice and Former Board President Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Fairfax

Kari Buchanan wrote:

Starting with the old maps will bias areas to remain in their old district. My area of Norfolk is districted with the Eastern Shore. My area is underserved with that alignment.

Christopher Schmidt wrote:

The citizens of Virginia voted for an independent process of redistricting. There are technologies available to draw district lines without partisan considerations. These technologies should be the basis for fair, nonpartisan redistricting. If the commission adopts the current districts as the basis for redistricting, the worst fears of all of us who opposed a commission comprised of current legislators and other members recommended by the parties will be confirmed. Start from scratch or dispense with any pretense that your work is not based on partisan incumbent protection. Sincerely, Christopher Schmidt

Trudy H McDaniel wrote:

I am so proud of the legislation that will enable VA to redraw districts fairly. The whole nation needs to follow this example. It is necessary, however, to throw out the old maps that were developed to deliver votes to specific candidates by dividing communities. They must not be used. Please begin anew following best practices to establish the map criteria so that we can function as whole communities once again. We have voted to enable fairness in the redistricting process and now place our trust in you to create maps that unite rather than divide us. Regards, Trudy H McDaniel Lynchburg, VA

Sharon Kenna wrote:

Start from scratch so there is no preconception. This is necessary to make it fair

James Baylor Blackford Jr wrote:

My name is James Baylor Blackford Jr. I reside in Richmond VA, where I voted yes on Amendment One. I ask that commissioners move to implement the so-called "Start from Scratch" guidelines for drawing new Virginia electoral maps. The citizens that I talk to place great importance on a commission that values independence & that does not move to solidify the re-election chances of incumbents. Using the present electoral maps as the starting point indicates to us that the commission has chosen the goal of protecting incumbents. I do not fault the lawmakers for seeking that outcome. If I was a lawmaker, I might well support that move. But I plead with commissioners to safeguard the larger interests of the Commonwealth when it implements a "Start From Scratch" model that more greatly empowers Virginia voters. Yours, James B Blackford Jr. 310 S Cherry St Richmond, VA 23220

Chris DeRosa wrote:

Once again, I am asking that the Commission "start fresh", either with a blank slate, or with starter maps drawn by a mapping expert - or with those created in 2011 by nonpartisan groups and individuals. Not one Virginian who has submitted written or oral comments to this Commission has advised or requested that you begin with the existing maps. Should you choose to use current maps as you begin your map-drawing, you will be shattering any hopes for a NEW, transparent, and fair redistricting process in Virginia. Virginians overwhelmingly voted for a new approach to map drawing. Do not disappoint us!

Terry Dutcher wrote:

Please start redistricting from scratch. We need to move AWAY from gerrymandering. Thank you.

Aliyah Khan wrote:

There has been a sharp growth in the population and this there is need to add more districts and thus proper representation.

Robin P. Williams wrote:

Today PWC is non-representated by three Congresspeople who have a minority part of their district in PWC. PWC is the second largest County in the Commonwealth at ~ 450K with distinct boundary lines (Potomac River, Occoquan River, and the County lines. Make it it's own Congressional District and add a small jurisdiction like Faquier County to PWC to make one contiguous jurisdiction that'll actually get representation. Do NOT make boundary lines based upon who votes where because the Demographics change and then no one is represented correctly. Follow the basic guidance in the Legislative Affairs document and don't get clever.

Kari Buchanan wrote:

Please hire professional map makers to draw the district lines. You have the criteria. Hiring a professional and starting from scratch should stop some of the mistakes from the past. Please limit how a community is divided. It decreases citizen voices. Legislators are representatives of the people of Virginia, not a party. The best way to limit legislator impact on map drawing is to hire a professional and remove incumbent legislator addresses from the maps.

Elizabeth wrote:

To Whom It May Concern: I am a resident of Stafford County. I am writing to requesting that the Virginia Redistricting Commission redraw Senate District 28 to include Stafford County, Fredericksburg City, and Spotsylvania County. Virginia law requires electoral districts to be drawn around communities of interest. Currently, Senate District 28 is a sprawling leviathan that includes communities that have very little in common from Prince William County’s Rural Crescent to the shores of Westmoreland County. Residents of these areas have very little in common culturally or economically and, therefore, do not represent a community of interest. Rather, a more appropriate district should be centered around Fredericksburg City. Stafford County, Fredericksburg City, and Spotsylvania County have a strong community of interest. We eat at the same restaurants, shop at the same stores, our families worship at the same churches, and we all consider ourselves from “Fredericksburg”. Senate District 28, therefore, should reflect that strong community of interest and be drawn around Fredericksburg City. Thank you, Elizabeth Cameron

Caryl Burtner wrote:

We must start from scratch when redistricting! It must be done without any preconception. Make it fair for everyone!

edward strickler wrote:

Rural areas have the GREATEST ADVERSE health, longevity, education, job development, and other disparities, inequities and injustices. In rural communities people GET SICK more, STAY sick and disabled longer, and DIE SOONER than metro areas (see https://www.countyhealthrankings.org/reports/state-reports/2020-virginia-report ) . The Richmond based Federal Reserve Bank reports that rural areas have GREATEST LAGGING ASSETS AND OUTCOMES in educational attainment, and employment-to-population ratios, and uplift out of poverty (see at https://www.richmondfed.org/research/regional_economy/regional_matters/2021/rm_03_11_21_landscape_race and other research at the Bank's site). Additionally, in some regions of Virginia, rural counties and communities are plurality or majority Black ( https://www.indexmundi.com/facts/united-states/quick-facts/virginia/black-population-percentage#map ) which means that racist Progressive Era/Jim Crow history of law making in Virginia NEGLECTED these rural areas/regions MOST, producing a legacy across generations of great injustice. Rural Virginians, therefore, suffering MORE injustice, both historically and presently, than metro Virginians, deserve utmost care in redistricting. Thank you. Edward Strickler, MA, MA, MPH, retired, School of Medicine, UVA, and past chair, Ethics Section, American Public Health Association. Farmville VA. els2e@virginia.edu

Patrick Herbst wrote:

The Commission should not start from the assumption that the old districts merely need a little tinkering. Such a premise reeks of protecting incumbents.

Barbara Lipsky wrote:

It is imperative that the Commission start from scratch in drawing maps. The whole reason that Virginians voted for a new constitutional amendment to create a Redistricting Commission is that they had no confidence in the partisan maps drawn in the past, often with an eye to enhancing the election chances of incumbent legislators or incumbent parties. These old maps should be thrown out and the Commission should start from scratch.

Lynn Melton wrote:

The opportunity to change to a non-partisan redistributing method earned my vote, despite my misgivings on the possible effects from amendments on commission composition. If the effort is baselined at what boundaries currently exist, it in effect gives the incumbents on the committee the weight of a majority and makes a mockery of the non-partisan label. This is an opportunity to change the years of gerrymandering by both sides. Please don’t throw it away.

Tim Huson wrote:

I urge the redistricting commission to NOT start from current maps. Instead they should start with the maps produced by the 2011 Independent Bipartisan Advisory Commission, or they should have their mapmaker create NEW initial maps. The existing maps are based on gerrymandered districts intended to divide up the population taking into account voters' party affiliations, in order to protect incumbents and/or to give an advantage to one party over the other. To start with a district map that reflects the former corrupt gerrymandered process would be to embed that corruption into the new district map. The districts should reflect the priorities intended by the new law passed by the voters, and those priorities should NOT be to help one party, both parties, or current incumbents. You must not start from the current maps! Do the right thing! Thank you, Tim Huson Arlington, Virginia

Kate Loring wrote:

My subject line really says it all. Rather than starting with the old maps, which will inevitably influence your work and limit the mental models that seem possible to you, it's essential that you start fresh. Please don't make this an empty exercise that continues the unfair practices of the old gerrymandering! Thank you so much for your work and for serving the people of Virginia.

Allen Muchnick wrote:

To put an end to partisan Gerrymandering and use intuitive jurisdictional and physical district boundaries (e.g, rivers, major highways), it''s important to not use the maps of the present distorted districts as the starting point for drawing new districts. I urge the Redistricting Commission to create compact election districts that respect jurisdictional and voting precinct boundaries and minimally split zip codes.

Eric Young wrote:

I respectfully ask that the Commission consider including the entirety of all four Cumberland Plateau counties, Buchanan, Dickenson, Russell, and Tazewell, in single House District. The counties share a common, unique culture and common community. The commuting patterns of all four counties are primarily among each of these counties. Geography isolates these four counties on the Cumberland Plateau. Their residents share employers, churches, and schools. They are all served by a single community College. They compose all four counties of the Cumberland Plateau planning district. They are all rural. They have a similar racial, educational, religious, and age demographic profile. They also have economies built on timber, beef grazing, coal, and manufacturing. Lastly, I believe the new census numbers suggest the populations of the four counties combined could compose a single House district. Based on all of these factors, I believe they should be contained in a single district. Thank you for your consideration.

Michelle Schmitt wrote:

Elected officials should represent real areas: city and county lines should be used. *That* is the map of the Commonwealth where the Commission should start.

Alice C Moore wrote:

It's hard work, but worth doing right. Please start afresh.

Bryan Sullivan wrote:

I encourage the commission to start from scratch as the old map was not real but a republican wish list. Using that as a starting place will just keep any map generated unreal too. A real map will end up showing the reality that VA is 45% Republican and 55% Democrat.

Emily Klinedinst wrote:

Just scrap the whole thing and start over

Kristin Hoffman wrote:

I encourage the commission to completely redraw all district maps. All the work to complete a census, and legislate for a commission was not intended to result in the tweaking around the edges of existing maps. To support the true spirit of the redistricting commission would be for the team to "start from scratch". Please do your best to fairly distribute our districts in concise and rational, brand new maps. This best supports democracy. Thank you

Matthias Paul Telkamp wrote:

The time has come to redraw the lines and there is absolutely no other reason to use the existing map other than to protect incumbents. We need to have real changes and we need the maps to be fair. Not a century from now. NOW is when we need them.

Ernie McFaddin wrote:

As the economic developer for Russell county I have developed relationships with our neighboring counties through regional projects that we have worked on. In looking at the current makeup of Cumberland Plateau Planning District and the Cumberland Industrial Facilities Authority I believe the basic framework for this district is well defined. The counties of Russell, Tazewell, Buchanan and Dickenson have a number of similarities that have allowed us to work well together. Russell County has revenue share agreements with Tazewell and Buchanan county on two economic development projects and have a good overall working relationship. Another area that ties these four counties together is the 19/460 corridor that will connect to the coalfield expressway. In my opinion these four counties (Russell, Tazewell, Buchanan and Dickenson) should be together in one district to allow better continuity with our representatives. Thank you for the opportunity to share our opinion on this matter.

Ruth Twiggs wrote:

WHY do we allow the repeating of mistakes when we have an opportunity to do it correctly. MANY of us pointed this out BEFORE voting on the referendum! START FROM SCRATCH!

Marcia L Keener wrote:

Please look at our voting districts afresh and see if we can address the deleterious effects of gerrymandering in another recommended way, as other pioneering states have! Please do not "start" with existing maps and assume that they are valid and just need a little "tweaking." That would be a waste of great civic energy. We need the time and expertise to do that, but let's find what is needed to do it right! PLEASE START WITH NEW MAPS!

mel titus wrote:

Please do start from scratch for redistricting. That would be the fairest way to decide the maps. No gerrymandering please like the old map. sincerely, a committed voter mel titus ashland, va 23005

Sara Fitzgerald wrote:

August 13, 2021 To the Virginia Redistricting Commission: I was distressed to hear at your August 3, 2021, meeting that your partisan counsels had recommended that the Commission start its map drawing by using the existing legislative and congressional maps, rather than “starting from scratch” as many citizens have urged the Commission to do. The recommendation was reportedly based on the short, 45-day window the Commission has in which to complete its work. I am skeptical that the counsels actually have had any experience in “starting from scratch” with a bipartisan commission. They may believe that “starting from scratch” will make it more difficult for fresh maps to win the approval of the General Assembly as members may find themselves living in districts that are different from their current ones. But “starting from scratch” would certainly make the ultimate redistricting plans more acceptable in the eyes of the public. Further, now that the Census data have been released, it is clear that much of Virginia’s population growth in the past decade has occurred among minority groups. Would the Commission’s Racial Polarization Voting Analyst recommend that it would be easier to create more “minority opportunity districts” if the Commission started with a blank slate? If the Commission decides it can’t start from scratch because of time pressures, please consider starting with a less partisan map than the ones the General Assembly drew in 2010. There are several bipartisan or independent maps from which to choose that are just as old as the current maps (before the court-ordered redrawing). Alternatively, the Commission could start with a map prepared by software algorithms set to the Commission’s prioritized criteria. Either of these approaches would address legitimate concerns about time pressures while increasing citizen confidence that the resulting maps are actually fair. Sara Fitzgerald Falls Church, Virginia

William Card wrote:

Right now Prince William County is split up by eight (8) separate House of Delegates Districts (2, 13,31, 40, 50, 51, 52, and 87). It looks like we have two base districts (51 and 52) while everywhere else, surrounding jurisdictions have nibbled away at the edges. It must make coordination between agencies difficult. I do think that there is an easy solution that makes sense. First – pull Manassas and Manassas Park together and add in those precincts North and Northwest of those cites to make a more homogenous community of interest. Second – one of two most obvious communities of interest is the Western and Northwestern portion of the County. Roughly, by eliminating the encroachment of the 87th and 40th and combining those areas with what remains of the 13th – you have a more uniform community of interest all within Prince William County. Third, moving South it would make sense to have a community of interest that consists of a district that runs from the Eastern boundary to the Western boundary of the county. Lastly, we should keep the Prince William portion of the 2nd and combine it with the remnants of the 52nd that represent the most obvious community of interest in the I-95/Highway 1 corridor and East. These four House of Delegates districts would respect the distinctly unique communities of interest that exist within Prince William County. I believe that this would also simplify the coordination between State and County/City governments and their often-unique requirements.

Ann Stephens wrote:

Why not give computer optimization a shot? It's much more fair, much quicker, and much less expensive. Until now, optimization has not been a feasible redistricting method, as no viable software or modeling solution existed that was able to properly analyze hundreds of millions of potential redistricting plans to come up with a single ideal result. This is no longer true. All Virginia has to do is identify it's parameters, (equal population, compactness, contiguity, adherence to Federal law, as well as protecting any communities of interest that you choose) and you can get a mathematically fair solution. If you decide to change the parameters along the way, this is also fine. We are happy to supply free tests to Virginia if you would like to see more. http://www.encore-data.com

Jim Baldwin wrote:

Dear Commissioners – Please accept these comments in the spirit of making sure that the four counties of the Cumberland Plateau Planning District Commission (Buchanan, Dickenson, Russell and Tazewell) are recognized as communities of interest in that they share many things in common and have worked together for decades in many different ways to address their many challenges. The same could be said for our neighboring PDC, Lenowisco, which is home to 3 coal-producing counties. Of the 19 counties in Southwest Virginia, the coalfield counties have a history of working together on many different initiatives. A good example is the recent creation of the Cumberland Industrial Facilities Authority (CIFA) by Buchanan, Russell and Tazewell Counties (Dickenson County is considering joining as well). The Authority members have entered a Revenue Sharing Agreement in support of perhaps the largest single economic project in the Cumberland Plateau - Pure Salmon. This aquaculture project, known locally as Project Jonah, will create 200 new good paying jobs with a capital investment of $228 million. The three member counties each committed $1 million to the project and will share in the revenues. This is just one example of many regional efforts that illustrate the cohesiveness of the 4 Cumberland Plateau counties. Others include: (1) Cumberland Plateau Regional Industrial Park; (2) Cumberland Plateau Regional Opportunity Program (CProp); (3) Cumberland Plateau/Lenowisco Revolving Loan Fund; (4) Cumberland Plateau Regional Broadband Project; (5) Cumberland Plateau Regional Outdoor Recreation Initiative; and (6) Cumberland Plateau Regional Water and Sewer Roundtable. After 53 years of working together on a regional basis to solve local problems, we hope the Commission will keep these counties whole in the redistricting process as a number of new initiatives, including universal broadband coverage, are currently underway. Thank you. James A. Baldwin, Executive Director

Jeffrey Katz wrote:

It is my sincere belief that any redistricting proposals respect the rural nature of Hanover County.

Wanda Denise Blackwell wrote:

I am asking that you draw new maps without consideration of existing district lines in Stafford County.

John McCoy wrote:

Dear Commissioners, The census data released today state that the City of Lynchburg has a population of 79,009, versus a population of 8,631,393 for all of Virginia. Because (1) Lynchburg is socially and demographically distinct from the surrounding counties, and (2) there are 100 seats in the House of Delegates, and (3) the population of Lynchburg is very nearly 1/100th of that of the Commonwealth, I urge you to consider assigning all of Lynchburg to a single district for the House of Delegates. Because the Virginia Senate has only 40 seats, Lynchburg's Senate district will necessarily include a substantial area from nearby counties. However, it is difficult to see why Lynchburg should be divided between two districts. Just as with the House, Lynchburg should remain as one. Sincerely, John McCoy

William Helfrich wrote:

Hello, Please do not use the existing legislative map to assist in redistricting. This would lead to a historical bias in the results of the commission when there are so many fast and simple solutions to developing new districts. I work in data analytics and recommend using a clustering algorithm that can draw lines using a set number of clusters (the number of desired districts) to sperate voters into equal groups based on geographic distance to cluster centers. This is the most unbiased method to develop districts and would likely take less than a single day's work for a single analyst using census data to do what would take 45 days for an entire committee. Very respectfully, Will Helfrich

Elizabeth Kelley wrote:

It is not right to redraw districts so one political party has advantage over another and it's not the "self evident" truths that are talked about in the Constitution. Our current gerrymandered maps do not offer fair and open delineations of districts: they raggedly tear them along party lines. When the person with the most votes fairly and honestly wins a district and then goes on to represent those who elected them, our democracy works just the way it should. Please be objective and honest when you take that pencil in hand to start anew to draw district lines and make sure those lines do not divide us unfairly.

Linda Garvelink wrote:

I supported this commission so that VA could end gerrymandering and be a leading state with fair, as competitive as possible, districts. Please do the right thing and start the Redistricting process from scratch … do not build on our current gerrymandered districts.

Not Sharing wrote:

Gerrymandering has long been an issue and to do this properly, we MUST start fresh. It’s the only way to make sure redistricting is done fairly and for the benefit of ALL Virginians.

Eleaner Loos wrote:

Because of the prevalence of drawing districts to support particular parties, ideas, races etc. (I.e. gerrymandering), starting now with maps that have been tainted by that practice makes no sense. Virginia voted for a new system to negate the past practices. The only way to do that is to start fresh, drawing district based on data and common sense and untainted.

Linda Stanley wrote:

DO NOT START WITH MAPS DRAWN in 2011. Start a new and use 2020 Census Data.

Michael Spragins wrote:

We already have gerrymandered maps in Virginia. Beginning the redistricting process with the current maps will only give incumbent officeholders a preference. We should start from scratch with the Census data and new maps should be drawn from that information, not with current maps as a reference.

Elizabeth Spencer Spragins wrote:

The current maps are gerrymandered. Tweaking gerrymandered maps will only lead to more gerrymandered maps. Please start afresh. That is the only way to achieve fair maps!

Tommy Wright wrote:

As President of Southwest Virginia Community College, I would like to reinforce the importance of the Redistricting Commission maintaining the “community of interest” that we have here in Southwest Virginia. My college’s service region encompasses Buchanan, Dickenson, Russell, and Tazewell Counties. Since being named SWCC’s president, I have been struck by how much each one of these counties supports our college and our students. There are solid cultural and social relationships here. In fact, I like to set up opportunities so that we at SWCC give back to these communities which give us so much, and organize events where we gather volunteers to help organizations with clean-ups, renovations, repairs and overall enhancements. At SWCC, we also support any and all regional efforts and partnerships to help this region develop and diversify the economy. For these reasons, I encourage the members of the Redistricting Commission to consider our strong community of interest here in Southwest Virginia so that we can maintain our voice and identity as you recommend the new districts.

Marcia Tugendhat wrote:

I write to you as a Unitarian Universalist. Our principles call on us to work for democracy for every one and level playing field. Working with old data perpetuates districts that favor incumbents and prevents good governance of communities. Please start fresh with current data and draw maps accordingly.

Laura Moyer wrote:

As a Virginia voter and advocate of having a citizen-led commission do the redistricting, I am disheartened to think our new districts might be based on outdated, previously gerrymandered maps. I know we can do better. Please use new the new Census and start afresh, drawing nonpartisan districts that reflect the current population and take into account Virginians' desire to keep localities intact as communities of interest. I support hiring nonpartisan professionals to draw the first draft based on the criteria set by the General Assembly. The commission could then make changes as needed to reflect the wishes of Virginians as expressed in public hearings. Thank you for doing this important work.

Catherine Sullivan wrote:

To promote more equitable representation for all Virginians, I urge the commission to use newly released US Census data to draw their legislative maps. Census data is less biased than existing districts which reflect the party in the majority preferences a.k.a. gerrymandering.

Hope Moffa wrote:

Thank you for taking the time to complete the redistricting of Virginia. I think most will agree that achieving this in 45 days sounds like a daunting task. There are many ways this can be achieved but I hope that you do not pursue the idea of starting from the current map. The current map is a disaster, especially in places like Lynchburg where cities have been carved up. Please take the time to start from a blank map and look at communities of interest along with populations. Lynchburg should be drawn together as we have one city government, one school system, and one transportation system. We would be better represented by one House of Delegates district and one state Senate district. Thank you for your time and I look forward to seeing the fair redistricting you will put forth. Sincerely, Hope Moffa Lynchburg

Kahleen Husted wrote:

Let's make this as fair a possible Let's start completely fresh, using none of the old gerrymandered districts. Give all Virginians a fair chancebfor representation. Thank you. Sincerely; Kahleen Husted

Fran Larkins wrote:

At the last Commission meeting, we learned that “all four legal counsel strongly encouraged the Commission to gain map drawing expertise.” Given the short window of 45 days from tomorrow – August 12 - to present the maps to the General Assembly, bringing nonpartisan map expertise on board is certainly wise. Many are very concerned, however, that the law firms also recommended using current maps as the starting point for redistricting. These lawyers were not there for the eight hearings when the commissioners listened to Virginians plead that their communities, cities, and counties no longer be divided. If they had been, they would never have considered such a recommendation. Virginia’s maps have been terribly gerrymandered and there are major problems with our legislative districts that cannot be solved with a “band-aid” approach. How are you going to decide which districts remain intact and which will need to be moved to another area of the state as population changes are taken into account? Which politicians will benefit? Wouldn’t it less complicated, less political, and actually faster to start afresh? The Delegates and Senators who represent their constituents well should have no problem winning re-election no matter how the lines are drawn. They may even appreciate how much easier it is to get to know their districts. As a starting point, you could use computer-generated maps using an algorithm based on the legally mandated criteria. As Sen. George Barker suggested, a racially polarized voting analyst could begin right away looking at data and opportunities for minority representation districts. In addition, our cities and counties should be considered “communities of interest” and kept together as much as possible. Once again, thank you for listening!

James Fox wrote:

Thank you for the critical work you and your colleagues are doing on redistricting. Please make sure your maps stop gerrymandering. Gerrymanderers are deflecting from the importance of this fundamental goal. Redistricting criteria are very important. Gerrymanderers focus on some of these criteria and build maps that stress particular criteria AND the map is STILL GERRYMANDERED. Beware of this ploy. Do not allow gerrymanderers to implement other redistricting criteria in a way that hinders the eradication of gerrymandering. Please, keep your eye on the fundamental goal of stopping gerrymandering. Advocates of particular redistricting criteria should be aware that maps can be drawn that stop gerrymandering and achieve other redistricting criteria. But, in addition to advocating for particular criteria, make sure that gerrymandering is defeated and representative democracy prevails. The Guide to Fair Redistricting provides, for a wide range of states, examples of maps that advance specific redistricting criteria and prevent gerrymandering. https://preprints.apsanet.org/engage/api-gateway/apsa/assets/orp/resource/item/60e46f7ea4e06bf9217014db/original/fair-and-square-redistricting.pdf (more than 1550 views and 800 downloads on the APSA Preprints Page). Representational Fairness eliminates gerrymandering. Best Wishes in the Pursuit of Fair Maps, Jim Fox

Tom Parisi wrote:

Hello VRC, Thank you so much for the work you are doing to create fair redistricting maps that can best represent all Virginians. I simply wanted to express my desire that you scrap the old maps and start from scratch as you begin this process. This should help lead to the fairest outcome as so many others are also expressing. I realize this may take a little extra work, so thank you in advance for that. This is such an important matter, and I'm glad VA can be one of the states leading the way! -T

Ian MacInnes wrote:

I’m writing about where we start with redrawing maps. I voted in favor of a redistributing committee because I want fair representation across the state and I feel like our current maps are not there. I would greatly prefer that we start from scratch rather than start from an already flawed system, it would give us the best chance at the best map. Thanks, Ian

Emily Haines wrote:

Dear Commission Members, I am writing to state my strong opinion on how the redistricting process should begin. I'm aware that one of the first questions you will face is what to use as a baseline for your decisions. I strongly believe that in order to have a truly unbiased process, the commission must start fresh, and under no circumstances should the current district maps be used as a starting point. Including them will make incumbent protection part of a process it has no place in. Fair maps benefit everyone, and incumbent protection by its very nature is about protecting the status quo for the few at the expense of the many, and will severely limit the ability of the commission to fix maps that have historically been extremely partisan and both politically and racially gerrymandered. If a starting point is needed for expediency, I suggest that the commission use the maps drawn by the 2011 Independent Bipartisan Advisory Commission, or ask for basic starter maps to be drawn up based on population blocks alone. Please start this process off right- use fresh maps for a clean slate, and a fresh start for all of Virginia's districts. On the concern of lawmakers being "drawn out" of their districts, perhaps a grandfathering provision could be included to allow an incumbent to run again as long as they continue to be reelected, regardless of their current address as long as it remains within a certain distance of their district. This would allow the commission to shelve that concern and focus on what matters most- fair maps for all Virginians.

Paige Smith Lee wrote:

Gerrymandering is a blight on our voting process. You have an oppotunity to create maps that are representative of the constituents of Virginia. I will echo Ms. Strange on what we would like you to do: Please ensure that the following gets done as you draw the new maps. 1) Virginia is the fifth most gerrymandered state so throw out the very gerrymandered 2011 maps drawn by the Republicans in the House of Delegates and Democrats in the Virginia Senate. 2) Draw completely new maps focused on keeping “Communities of Interest,” towns, cities, and counties together. 3) Pay absolutely no attention to where the Republicans or Democrats politicians live in Virginia. 4) Meet the state constitution’s requirement that congressional maps be contiguous and compact (all existing congressional districts are contiguous but not very compact). 5) Meet as much as you can, even if it means working every day, to get the new maps drawn as quickly as possible. 6) Give citizens as much time as possible to review the new maps. 7) Be transparent in all your actions. 8) Invite the press into your meetings. 9) Give the citizens of Virginia the fairest congressional district maps possible. 10)Make Virginia a shining example of what citizens and politicians can do, working together, to ensure our democracy works for all of us. Thank you, Paige Smith Lee

Pete Goddard wrote:

I would like to urge all the commissioners not to start from the current maps, which are heavily gerrymandered and are too likely to retain that character no matter how much work is done. Please either have your mapmaker create "starter" maps or use the maps created by the 2011 Independent Bipartisan Advisory Commission... either is a better choice than using the current maps.

Rebecca Piatt wrote:

Many communities were divided by the old maps. Urban areas were often cut up so that urban votes would be diluted in mostly suburban districts.

Bill Millhouser wrote:

I urge the Commission to not be boxed in by the existing districts as you approach drawing new maps for the upcoming decade. Relying on the existing maps will just repeat our checkered history of gerrymandering. in passing the constitutional amendment last year, voters demanded a new way of drawing district maps, one that rejects the past practice of drawing districts for political reason; that approach gave us odd-shapped gerrymandered districts that put parties and incumbents before the voters of Virginia. Please consider alternative approaches to drawing maps that are based on communities of interest and which respect local jurisdictional boundaries. Thank you for you service on the Commission and the opportunity to provide these comments

Anne Earle Strange wrote:

Dear Members of the Commission, I believe that gerrymandering is at the root of why the United States is so polarized! Until we get rid of gerrymandering the polarization is going to get worst. Because of the creation of a Virginia Redistricting Commission, Virginians now have an opportunity for the first time in four hundred years to have a say in how our congressional boundaries are drawn. Please let them guide you as you draw the new boundaries. Please ensure that the following gets done as you draw the new maps. 1) Virginia is the fifth most gerrymandered state so throw out the very gerrymandered 2011 maps drawn by the Republicans in the House of Delegates and Democrats in the Virginia Senate. 2) Draw completely new maps focused on keeping “Communities of Interest,” towns, cities, and counties together. 3) Pay absolutely no attention to where the Republicans or Democrats politicians live in Virginia. 4) Meet the state constitution’s requirement that congressional maps be contiguous and compact (all existing congressional districts are contiguous but not very compact). 5) Meet as much as you can, even if it means working every day, to get the new maps drawn as quickly as possible. 6) Give citizens as much time as possible to review the new maps. 7) Be transparent in all your actions. 8) Invite the press into your meetings. 9) Give the citizens of Virginia the fairest congressional district maps possible. 10)Make Virginia a shining example of what citizens and politicians can do, working together, to ensure our democracy works for all of us. Creating fair maps for all Virginians should be your number one priority so citizens get fairer elections and better representation. Sincerely yours, Anne Earle Strange Reston, VA

Robert L Morris wrote:

It seems you will get a better outcome if you ignore the past. Surely there is a way to get population data in to some computer program that would quickly create something better.

Helen Wheelock wrote:

Please do not use existing voting district maps. *Using gerrymandered maps will erode public confidence. *They will contain legislators' addresses and create an appearance of favoritism. *More time will be needed to undo the gerrymandering before the rebuilding begins. There are more positive options for starter maps. *Use student maps. *Use population block maps. *Use mathematically produced maps. Please begin with a neutral map in this historic fair redistricting process.

Michael Angeloni wrote:

With the Commission getting ready to draw new maps, I ask that the Commission please start from scratch with new maps and not work from the current maps in place, which are clear gerrymanders. This would reduce the risk of bipartisan gerrymanders and also incumbent protection gerrymanders like we saw in 2011.

Ankit Jain wrote:

I ask that you not start your line-drawing from the heavily gerrymandered existing maps. No matter how much these lines are tweaked, starting from this baseline inevitably will bake gerrymandering into the final product. Your legal counsel has suggested this option because they believe there is not enough time to start from scratch. But if you don’t think you can start from scratch, there are numerous alternative options available to you. These options can be grouped into three buckets: 1) Have your mapdrawer use an algorithm to generate a computer-drawn map. The algorithm would be based on the ranking of the redistricting criteria the Commission will soon vote on. This map can serve as a starting point for the Commission and the Commission can then adjust that map to make specific changes that commissioners feel necessary. This would allow an algorithm to start the process, and for the Commission to complete the process 2) Have your mapdrawer use their redistricting software to generate equi-populous districts that do not take the Commission’s criteria into account. This would create a starting point that the Commission can then adjust 3) Start with another set of non-gerrymandered maps. Either the 2011 Independent Bipartisan Advisory Commission maps or the winning maps of the 2011 Virginia College and University Redistricting Competition would be fine starting points for the commission, as these maps were drawn with fairness in mind As you can see, there are more than two options available here. The Commission can easily engage in a clean break from the current gerrymandered maps while also giving itself enough time to draw maps by the statutory deadline. I urge you to reject your attorneys’ suggestion of starting from the current maps and pursue one of these other options.

John Peterson wrote:

Please start fresh with new maps, and not the gerrymandered maps from the past. 1. Past maps divided neighborhoods and communities, making it hard for counties to give people the correct ballots. 2. We voted to stop gerrymandering. It makes no sense to start with the old maps. 3. Computers can draw new maps quickly. Please do not leave us yet again with gerrymandered maps using timeframes as the excuse.

Shelley Tamres wrote:

Virginia has some of the worst gerrymandering in the country, such that some of both congressional and state legislative districts have been ordered to be redrawn by the courts in recent years. In order to have fair districts, you MUST start from scratch instead of trying to tweak the existing lines. And while you are about it, please ensure there are NO MORE SPLIT PRECINCTS! Voters in one split precinct in 2019 were given the wrong ballot, and thereby disenfranchised for that race. There is no excuse for split precincts. Thank you for your time and attention.

JoAnn Kennedy Flanagan wrote:

As always, thank you for the work you've taken on. There are many options for beginning our new voting maps. But basing new maps on the 2011 district maps would unfairly advantage incumbents. Please consult directly with non-partisan cartographers as you make this foundational decision. We deserve to know all the options from experts who do the technical work. Virginia Tech and George Mason University produce very skilled cartographers who can supply exact information on their methodology. Fair map drawing can only become more difficult as you work toward more detailed line drawing. Starting with a non-partisan map will be a major benefit to Virginia's democracy.

Jessica Sun wrote:

Free and fair elections require a fair opportunity for both primary and general election challengers. In a functioning democracy, voters should always choose their elected officials based on the needs of their communities. Incumbents should not have a wildly unfair advantage in choosing who their voters are to secure their seat. It should be basic common sense for anyone claiming to support America and our Constitution that voters should pick their elected officials. The residence locations of incumbents should not be considered by the redistricting commission. The commission should emphasize communities of interest, jurisdictional lines, and compactness.

Ally Dalsimer wrote:

Redistricting should be based on existing jurisdictional boundaries, compactness, and community cohesion, and should not be made to benefit a particular party or candidate. Those engaged in redistricting efforts must ensure that all decisions promote fair opportunities to all candidates, and not preferentially benefit incumbents. Voters deserve to participate in a system where their votes count.

Stephen Spitz wrote:

Elected officials should not be able to pick their voters. Voters should pick their elected officials. The residence locations of incumbents should not be considered by the redistricting commission. The commission should emphasize communities of interest, jurisdictional lines, and compactness. Free and fair elections require an fair opportunity for both primary and general election challengers.

Libby Allen wrote:

I am asking commission members, regardless of party affiliation, to reject political considerations in designing district boundaries. Please utilize planning district boundaries and exclude addresses of General Assembly members in the mapping criteria. The criteria for voting districts should include compactness, contiguity, racial equity, and representation by communities of interest. Past gerrymandering has unfortunate results, for example my area is split into four Senate districts: two including western neighbors in the Shenandoah Valley, and one from Spotsylvania in the East, and Lynchburg to the south. Likewise, our area is split among five House districts, including two from the Valley and Richmond. Our Congressional District stretches from Fauquier to the North Carolina border. Across the state other glaring examples abound where the communities of interest are split up and not truly represented by a common legislator. The 23 existing Planning Districts, which are created by Virginia statute, could be used as the basis for drawing legislative and congressional districts. The counties and cities in these PDs are contiguous, share a common geography, and have collaborated on common interests, such as housing, transportation, economic development, and waste management. Because the Planning Districts are creations of the state government, using their structure as a template for redistricting is most appropriate. Congressional districts could be fashioned by combining some portions of adjacent PDs. To reach the ideal size for congressional districts, some PDs would need to be combined in whole or in part with adjacent PDs

Chris DeRosa wrote:

The census arrives in just one week! You will soon be deeply involved in drawing #fairmaps for Virginia. I hope that all Commissioners have taken the opportunity to be trained in using CityGate software. As you wait for census data to be uploaded into CityGate, may I suggest that you try your hand at drawing districts "in your spare time"? One free online tool that I would recommend is Dave's Redistricting App. You can view current district lines and demographics; you can view "Notable maps" that are ranked for various criteria. And then you can draw districts -- perhaps you might start with Congressional Districts since there are only 11 to draw. Consider this a "trial run" and preliminary instruction in preparation for the "real thing". As a retired public school teacher, take my advice -- practice practice practice. https://davesredistricting.org/maps#state::VA

Chris DeRosa wrote:

Despite what the legal teams have recommended, I urge the Commission to reject the idea of using current maps when it begins drawing new district lines. Starting with existing maps will automatically grant incumbent protections because all 140, no, 151 elected representatives are obviously placed in districts. No matter how much you "tweak" the lines, most of the incumbents will benefit from remaining in their old home districts. The people of Virginia voted for this bipartisan commission because they want fair maps, not maps that are the "same old, same old". Do NOT start with the existing maps. NO incumbent protections. For the people, not for the politicians.

judy marie johnson wrote:

create compact contiguous and communities of common interest. so that voters decide decide rather than politicians, keep the districts and board diverse in age, sex, ethnicity, wealth reflective of the community and its needs

Joyce Hillstrom wrote:

Please redraw the districts so that they are able to send representatives to Richmond and to Washington who represent many or even most of the citizens within them. I live in Charlottesville where our Congressional district stretches from northern Virginia to the North Carolina line. How can any one person fairly represent such a long area? Most of us feel not only not represented but humiliated.

Sheila M McMillen wrote:

I live in Charlottesville. Currently this District is incredibly elongated, running through areas both rural and urban which have few issues in common. I urge the Commission to consider that Charlottesville and Albemarle County are part of the Thomas Jefferson Planning District 10, which also includes Nelson, Louisa, Fluvanna, and Greene. Keeping these groups together and keeping the District compact , passed on Planning District 10, would make much more sense than the current districting, which seems to have no other intent than to dilute and erase the concerns shared by the citizens in my area.

Mark Rathke wrote:

Thanks to the commission for your consideration of our comments. I suggest automatically adjusting Senate & Delegate lines when an annexation is approved by the recognized by the Commonwealth so that each municipality can be wholly within one district or another. It makes it easier to run elections and avoids confusion. There is a current issue in Bridgewater where an annexed portion is bisected between the 26th and 25th HOD districts. Also, with modern mapping applications, I propose we submit a map showing the boundaries in place of a written description of each boundary for our County Districts and Precincts. Thank you again for your consideration.

Lisa Gooden wrote:

Hello, as the General Registrar/Director of Elections for Rockingham County, I appreciate the opportunity to bring this matter to your attention. While I'm not a gambler, I would bet that this should be one of THE easiest issues that you will face as you gather comments about Redistricting Virginia. :^) The problem at hand is that Rockingham County has a split HOD District (25th/26th) in the Town of Bridgewater, specifically in the 401-West Bridgewater precinct. Some years ago, the town annexed an area which led to the development of the streets that are in the 26th HOD District: Hollen Mill Court (26 voters), Millview Dr. (20 voters), Millstone St. (28 voters) Penstock Ln (1 voter), Turbine Ln (11 voters), all of which are in the 401-West Bridgewater precinct. The remaining 1,402 voters in this precinct, however, are in the 25th HOD District. (For the record, Bridgewater has two precincts: 401-West Bridgewater -- 1,488 total voters) and 406-East Bridgewater -- 2,234 voters and only 401-West Bridgewater has the split HOD District.) As one can imagine, this split precinct for the 25th/26th HOD District makes election management more challenging: ordering two types of ballots for one voting precinct and, on Election Day, making sure that voters receive the correct ballot and fielding phone calls from voters who are confused about 'who' their Delegate is or why they didn't have the opportunity to vote for Delegate " x " because someone else down the street votes for Delegate " x ". Efforts over the years to resolve this situation have failed. There should be no reason that a town is not wholly contained in one House of Delegates District, and it is believed that this was simply a 'mapping error' (Division of Legislative Services) during the last redistricting process. Your consideration in resolving this 'split precinct' (HOD 25th/26th) in the Town of Bridgewater is appreciated. Please feel free to contact me if you have questions.

Susan Pollard wrote:

I am the chief election officer for West Bridgewater in Rockingham County. Some of my voters live in the 25th district and some live in the 26th district. It makes it confusing for voters when they want to vote for a certain candidate and I give them the proper ballot for their district and that name is not on their ballot. It would be very helpful to have everyone who lives inside the town limits of Bridgewater to be in the same district. It would also make our jobs as election officers easier and less stressful. Thank you.

Richard Hagen wrote:

I want to thank every commission member for taking on this most important task. Redistricting is the single most important thing to protect our Democracy. I attended the public comment hearing in Norfolk and have listened in on several other meetings. I heard many very passionate and thoughtful presentations. I would like to quickly share the major points I gleaned from the meetings. 1. The Commission should be NON-patrician not Bi-Patrician. A Commission with no Legislators is the Amendment we citizens really wanted. 2. Every Commission member should view them self as a Virginia Citizen and not a member of a political party. 3. Ignore voting patterns and political parties’ as part of the discussion. Don’t consider Political party as a ‘community of interest’. The largest ‘party’ is the Independent voters. 4. Do not look at Legislators home addresses. 5. Start anew. Do not consider the old maps. 6. Get Professional help from outside of Virginia Thanks again for your hard work.

Tina Winkler wrote:

I would like to advocate that Goochland County be kept together in the redistricting process. Currently, we are divided between the 56th and 65th HoD Districts, while all of Goochland is in the 22nd Senate District and in the 7th Congressional District. In addition, there are a couple of split precincts as well. The goal of redistricting should be keeping communities of interest together. Furthermore, all districts should be drawn to be competitive, not guaranteed to one party or another. All the voters in Goochland, especially and including minority voters who too often are rendered voiceless, should have a voice at the ballot box. I am disappointed I can't speak to the Commission in person, but I wanted to be sure that you heard my thoughts on the process. Thank you for your time in reading this message. Sincerely, Tina Winkler Goochland

Scarlett M Bunting wrote:

Let a computer grid the state longitudinally and latitudinally with each "block" having the same, or as close to possible, number of residents (not registered voters). This re-districting should not be political, it is based on population, to establish representation. The voters can decide who to vote for in their district block and that is when it becomes a political process.

Thomas Connelly wrote:

I would like the commission to consider establishing fewer Multi-Member Proportional (MMP) districts instead of more single "winner take all" districts. Based on the provided information on Standards and Criteria for districts (https://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title24.2/chapter3/section24.2-304.04/) there doesn't seem to be anything obviously prohibiting MMP districts, and § 24.2-304.1. At-large and district elections; reapportionment and redistricting of districts or wards; limits (https://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title24.2/chapter3/section24.2-304.1/) explicitly allows MMP districts for Counties, Cities, or Towns. MMP districts appear to be the best method to meeting the standards and criteria preserving communities of interest, and not dividing up towns and cities as others are asking. It also has the best potential to ensure that all members of the district have a representative that actually represents them. Thank you, Thomas Connelly