Proposed Constitutional Amendments Address Legislative Redistricting and Tax Exemptions

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Early voting will be held through October 31 in Room A of the COB Annex, which has an outside entrance and covered porches to allow voters to line up 6’ apart and protected from the weather if necessary. Photo: Malcolm Andrews.

Virginia voters will decide two proposed changes to the state constitution on November 3.

The first question deals with “gerrymandering,” the deliberate manipulation of legislative districts to favor a partisan outcome.

Virginia’s Constitution makes the General Assembly (GA) and Governor responsible for drawing new election districts every ten years following the census. Whichever political party holds the legislature has been able to influence voting through the redistricting process.

The amendment proposed is: “Should the Constitution of Virginia be amended to establish a redistricting commission, consisting of eight members of the General Assembly (GA) and eight citizens of the Commonwealth, that is responsible for drawing the constitutional and state legislative districts that will be subsequently voted on, but not changed by, the General Assembly and enacted without the Governor’s involvement and to give the responsibility of drawing districts to the Supreme Court of Virginia if the redistricting commission fails to draw districts or the GA fails to enact districts by certain deadlines?”

Opponents of the current process contend it is not transparent to voters because district lines are not revealed until they are set.  The proposed amendment also says “All meetings of the Commission shall be open to the public. Prior to proposing any redistricting plans and prior to voting on redistricting plans, the Commissions shall hold three public hearings in different parts of the Commonwealth to receive and consider comments from the public.”

The proposed Amendment was passed by the General Assembly in 2019 and again in 2020.

A yes vote will make a commission responsible for the initial drawing of election districts.  A no vote will leave responsibility for drawing the districts with the General Assembly and the Governor.

The second question asks Should an automobile or pickup truck that is owned and used primarily by or for a veteran of the United States armed forces or the Virginia National Guard who has a one hundred percent service-connected, permanent, and total disability be free from state and local taxation?

Virginia’s constitution requires all property be taxed. Seven specific types of property are not subject to taxation. A yes vote to this question would add an eighth category to be exempt from property tax imposed by the state or any counties and cities.

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