Nov. 5 will be election day in Virginia, with all 140 state legislative seats up for grabs, or not. According to the Virginia Public Access Project, only 85 of the 140 state legislative seats have candidates running from both major parties. Forty-one seats are uncontested, 14 have minor party/independent opposition. This isn’t full democracy.
Several factors stifle competition in Virginia’s elections, but for 2019, gerrymandering is the one we can do something about. Virginia is considered one of the most gerrymandered states in the nation, mainly because the Virginia constitution allows state legislators to draw all our federal and state voting districts. With the help of big data and computerized cartography, legislators have drawn districts that maximize the impact of their parties’ voters and minimize the effectiveness of constituency work. Prince William County has eight House of Delegate districts, seven of which cover only a fraction of the county with chunks of surrounding jurisdictions lumped in. Better maps in other states keep communities intact so representatives focus on, and solve, community-based problems.
Now there is a proposed amendment to have a commission redraw our voting districts after each U.S. Census. Half the commission (including the chair) would be private citizens, half would be legislators. Also, for the first time Virginia’s redistricting process would require transparency so the public can monitor how and why district lines are drawn. A Christopher Newport University poll shows that 78% of Virginia voters want a redistricting commission. The legislators have voted once to pass the amendment, and the Virginia constitution requires a second legislative vote, and then a citizen referendum.
To do something about Virginia’s gerrymandering problem, you can find your state senator’s and delegate’s contact information at whosmy.virginiageneralassembly.govand tell them you want a redistricting commission.
Prince William County