A look at November’s ballots
Besides considering candidates for president, U.S. Senate and 11 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives on Nov. 3, Virginians will also vote on two ballot measures to amend the state constitution. And four cities will hold local referendums to legalize gambling at proposed casinos within their boundaries.
The statewide ballot measures include a proposal to modify the Virginia Constitution to create a 16-member redistricting commission to draw state and congressional districts after the U.S. Census is conducted every 10 years. The commission would consist of eight state lawmakers appointed by the General Assembly and eight Virginia citizens appointed by a panel of retired circuit court judges. If the commission couldn’t agree on new maps, the decision would be made by the Supreme Court of Virginia.
Creating a commission would take redistricting out of the hands of the governor and state legislators who have traditionally drawn districts, often to the advantage of the majority political party at that time.
The second ballot measure would change the state constitution to add a motor vehicle property tax exemption for disabled military veterans. Voters previously have approved various property tax exemptions for certain classes of people. This measure would add to that list veterans of the U.S. armed forces or Virginia National Guard who have a service-related, total disability.
Statewide, Virginians will choose between two-term incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Warner and his Republican challenger, Daniel Gade, a 25-year U.S. Army veteran and public affairs lecturer at American University.
Additionally, residents of Bristol, Danville, Norfolk and Portsmouth will vote on whether to allow proposed casinos operated by local government-approved partners within their respective city limits. Virginia lawmakers approved legislation during the 2020 session to legalize casino gaming in those cities, plus Richmond, if the locality partners with a qualifying entity to run the casino and voters subsequently approve the casino by referendum.
Bristol has partnered with local businessmen Jim McGlothlin and Clyde Stacy, who are working with Hard Rock International. Portsmouth is working with Rush Street Gaming of Chicago. Danville is partnering with Caesars Entertainment Inc.
Norfolk is partnering with the Pamunkey Indian Tribe. The only one of Virginia’s seven federally recognized tribes that can establish a casino under federal guidelines, the Pamunkey are working under the new state casino process, which is faster. The Pamunkey tribe also is interested in Richmond, but the state’s capital city won’t hold a referendum this year.
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