CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — The Joint Legislative Committee on Redistricting met in Charleston Thursday evening to hold its second-to-last in-person public hearing on the matter, as they start to redraw the lines of West Virginia’s congressional and legislative boundary lines.
People at the hearing in the Culture Center say these new lines will impact voters for the next 10 years and, they want to make sure the lines are drawn in a non-partisan way.
Earlier in the day, a rally to support voting rights took place at East End Park in support of Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D- West Virginia) compromise on voting bills.
Despite months of appeals to Sen. Manchin to support the federal voting reform For the People Act, the West Virginia senator said no.
“I have made it crystal clear that I am not in favor of the For The People Act,” he said on the Senate floor.
Voting rights advocates on Thursday said the so-called, bipartisan ‘Manchin compromise’ is better than nothing, as it still includes provisions from For The People Act, like ensuring early voting, ending dark money in campaigns, and independent redistricting committees.
“He said what he didn’t like at first, so we said, ‘alright, show us what you do like,’ and so the compromise is in the works, he’s working on it and we are here to encourage him,” said former West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant.
“One of the things we’ve seen in the last couple of years is that elections matter and we’re very proud that people in West Virginia still have the freedoms to vote, but look at the number of states across the nation that have started to edge those rights away,” said Dale Lee, President of the West Virginia Education Association.
As the state of West Virginia prepares to redraw its district lines, these sentiments about voting rights were echoed at the public hearing on redistricting.
“We really have to be in the mindset of ‘are these redistricts, is the reapportionment; who is it going to benefit? Is it going to benefit the voters or is it going to benefit the politicians who will more or less be able to select their constituents?'” said Alex Urban with the Democratic Executive Committee of Kanawha County.
Urban also spoke about having independent redistricting committees for the state.
“I would get the universities involved, that way we’re more in tune with what the future will be in 10 years instead of what it is currently,” he said.
The next and last in-person public hearing on redistricting will be on September 16th in Parkersburg.