Editorial: Yes to Nonpartisan Redistricting

Editorial: Yes to Nonpartisan Redistricting

Politicians shouldn’t be choosing voters.

Virginia’s Congressional map is unconstitutional because African American voters are packed into District 3, according to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. The problem will have to be remedied by drawing new boundaries.

The issue could be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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. Every single official elected statewide is a Democrat.

Democrats won by a comfortable margin in most cases, but elections were close. In one case the margin was razor thin. (Attorney General Mark Herring beat Republican Mark Obenshain by 165 votes out of more than 2.2 million cast, and that was an election that had serious and immediate consequences, if you ever need an argument for the importance of your vote.)

It’s reasonable to assume that a state so clearly leaning blue, but close to evenly divided would be about evenly divided in political representation.

But in fact, the Virginia House of Delegates consists of 67 Republicans and 33 Democrats.

Virginia’s delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives consists of eight Republicans and three Democrats.

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 problem is gerrymandering.

The solution, which the Supreme Court just OK’d, is allowing the lines to be drawn by a non-partisan commission.

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. This is particularly unfair to localities like Fairfax County, Arlington and Alexandria, whose electorate and local officials have views that differ greatly from those of the majority of Virginia’s General Assembly.

The reason Virginia’s Congressional map has been ruled unconstitutional is about race; packing all the African American voters in one district and conceding that district to Democrats in order to reduce the power of African American voters in the adjacent districts. A similar challenge is in the works concerning districts in Virginia’s House of Delegates.

It’s long past time to take these decisions out of the hands of the officials who use the redistricting process to choose their own voters and effectively grant themselves lifetime appointments.

Pet Photos for the Pet Connection

The Pet Connection, a twice-yearly special edition, will publish on July 22, and photos and stories of your pets with you and your family should be submitted by July 15.

We invite you to send us stories about your pets, photos of you and/or your family with your cats, dogs, llamas, alpacas, 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. Do you volunteer at an animal shelter or therapeutic riding center or take your pet to visit people in a nursing home? Does your business have a pet? Is your business about pets? Have you helped to train an assistance dog? Do you or someone in your family depend on an assistance dog?

Or take this opportunity to memorialize a beloved pet you have lost.

Our favorite pictures include both pets and humans. We welcome short stories about how you got your pet, a noteworthy talent or anecdote about your pet, tales of the bonds between your family and your pet, plus drawings, paintings or other artwork of your pet by children or adults Please tell us a little bit about your creature, identify everyone in the photo, give a brief description what is happening in the photo, and include address and phone number (we will not publish your address or phone number, just your town name).

Email to editors@connectionnewspapers.com or online at www.connectionnewspapers.com/pets.

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