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Editorial: For Nonpartisan Redistricting

Virginia is a purple state, gerrymandered to bleed red.

Consider that in statewide elections, Virginia voters have chosen Democrats in the last two presidential elections, for U.S. Senate, for Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General.

Almost none of these elections was by a wide margin, but it’s clear that Virginia is a purple state leaning blue.

Here are the actual numbers:

2013

McAuliffe (D) 1,069,789; Cuccinelli (R) 1,013,389

Northam (D) 1,213,155; Jackson (R) 980,257

Herring (D) 1,103,777; Obenshain (R) 1,103,612

2012

Obama (D) 1,971,820; Romney (R) 1,822,522

Kaine (D) 2,010,067; Allen (R) 1,785,542

It’s reasonable to assume that a state so evenly divided would be about evenly divided in political representation.

How is possible then that Virginia House of Delegates consists of 67 Republicans and 33 Democrats?

Why is it that Virginia’s delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives consists of 11 Republicans and three Democrats?

The split in the Virginia Senate makes sense, a 20-20 split with a Republican Lieutenant Governor breaking tie votes the last four years and a Democratic Lieutenant Governor poised to break ties in the coming four years (pending this week’s recount in the special election in District 6 to replace Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam).

Virginia’s 11 Congressional districts should be split about evenly. You could understand a split five Dems and six Republicans; or five Republicans and six Democrats. A four and seven split would smack of some unusual circumstance. But three and eight?

The answer is gerrymandering.

Both political parties have been guilty of this when in power, although new technology and better data have made the process more egregious, the effects more damaging.

Political parties should not control the drawing of political districts. Gerrymandering thwarts the will of the electorate. It is especially damaging in a Dillon rule state, like Virginia, where localities have only the power explicitly granted to them by the General Assembly,

Send Photos for Pet Connection

The Pet Connection, a bi-annual themed edition, will publish Feb. 26.

We invite you to send us stories about your pets, photos of you and/or your family with your cats, dogs, hamsters, snakes, lizards, frogs, rabbits, or whatever other creatures share your home or yard with you.

Tell us the story of a special bond between a child and a dog, the story of how you came to adopt your pet, or examples of amazing feats of your creatures. Can your dog catch a Frisbee 10 feet in the air, or devour an entire pizza when you turn your back for less than a minute?

Do you volunteer at an animal shelter or therapeutic riding center or take your pet to visit people in a nursing home? Tell us about your experience.

Have you helped to train an assistance dog? Do you or someone in your family depend on an assistance dog?

You can also take this opportunity to memorialize a pet you have lost.

Send photos and identify everyone in the photo including the pets and tell us what is happening in the photo, and include your address (we will only print the town name).

Submissions should arrive by Feb. 19.

Email editors@connectionnewspapers.com, or submit photos and stories directly on our website at www.connectionnewspapers.com/pets/.