Meeting to talk about legislative reapportionment
DOVER- An apportionment and redistricting discussion will be held in Dover this month, and students and the general public are encouraged to attend.
Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos and the 2010 chair of the Vermont Legislative Apportionment Board, Tom Little, will participate in a discussion about Vermont’s apportionment and redistricting processes and what local voters should know.
The discussion will be held on Wednesday, September 25, at 6 pm, at the Dover Town Hall. Area legislators John Gannon, Laura Sibilia, and Kelly Pajala are hosting the event.
The Brennan Center for Justice, a nonpartisan law and policy institute at NYU describes the importance of the processes: “The redrawing of district boundaries every 10 years is designed to ensure that Congress and state legislatures are representative. But all too often, redistricting is not used by elected officials to safeguard electoral fairness, but to manipulate boundaries and stack the deck in favor of a political party or incumbent candidates. This is called gerrymandering and it is a big problem in America. Gerrymandering impacts communities across the country. Underrepresented minority communities are often hit the hardest when redistricting dilutes their political influence and makes it hard to gain a foothold in our democracy.”
Vermont redistricting history is not one where gerrymandering has been a significant problem. Vermont also prides itself on transparency in its processes.
Every 10 years, following the release of the U.S. Census data, state law requires reapportionment of Vermont’s House and Senate districts “in such manner as to achieve substantially equal weighting of the votes of all voters in the choice of legislators.”
The census results will allow the board to most accurately see which parts of Vermont are growing in population and which parts are losing population. If there are big changes in population numbers either way, legislative district lines may be changed. This helps to make sure that each legislator is representing roughly the same number of Vermonters.
The current apportionment process is guided by Title 17, Chapter 34A of the Vermont Statutes. This process begins with the Legislative Apportionment Board, an appointed body, proposing a draft apportionment plan. The Legislature may refer to this plan when it determines what district boundaries will be in the ensuing decade. In districts where boundaries are proposed to change, town boards of civil authority can comment and recommend different changes to district lines.