To the editor:
My experience in redistricting matters includes being the appointed authority for two commissions, sitting on another commission of which I was the chair, negotiating maps on two occasions, negotiating an agreed Congressional delegation map, negotiating for the Pennsylvania Senate GOP caucus and litigating a redistricting matter before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
In general, my strong preference is to leave redistricting to the legislature. I recognize that this is perhaps unfair to the legislative minority so I would require that some percentage of the minority caucus agree to the proposed map. Unfortunately, that option is not available.
The proposition on the Virginia ballot in November is the next best thing because legislators are heavily involved. Legislators better understand the ramifications of the districts created. The proposition going before voters would have a commission with the following composition: eight legislators consisting of equal members of both parties and eight citizens recommended by the legislators to five retired judges for approval. My one reservation is the five judges.
Legislators know considerably more about the basics of difficult line drawing than do outsiders. “Nonpartisan” commissions are never truly nonpartisan. All members have some desire or other that they wish to fulfill. The proponents of nonpartisan models want to remove politics from redistricting.
This is not possible: Legislating is appropriately a partisan effort and no number of nonpartisan commissioners will alter that fact. You cannot take nor should you wish to take the politics out of politics.
I support passage of the redistricting reform ballot measure in November.
-David A. Norcross, Alexandria