To the Editor:
Everywhere we turn today, the media is bombarding us with antics of the current presidential campaign. We hear about the need for health care reform, the shrinking middle class, the top 1 percent being too privileged and the weak state of the economy, a woman’s right to choose or not, and the need for a wall to protect our borders. No matter how you typically vote, republican, democrat, or independent, there are plenty of issues that can divide us depending on your political affiliation and beliefs.
However, there is one issue that affects all citizens of the Commonwealth and that bridges the great political divide, or at least it should.
In Virginia we are losing our right to choose representation for our local community that is compact and contiguous to where we live. The problem is political control of the map-drawing process otherwise known as gerrymandering and it is destroying our democracy. It is the deliberate manipulation of legislative district boundaries for political power. In Virginia, both Republicans and Democrats have engaged in this practice, thus reducing or eliminating competition in elections. The practice of gerrymandering promotes partisanship and polarization making it more difficult to reach compromise on the important issues that affect the citizens of the Commonwealth. Government gridlock has become the rule rather than the exception.
In Virginia, state legislators draw district lines for the U.S. Congress, Virginia House of Delegates and Senate of Virginia after every 10-year Census. Under our current system, the party in power in the House of Delegates and State Senate draw the lines to serve their own interests. In other words they are drawing the lines to ensure they have the votes to stay in office. They are selecting their voters instead of the voters selecting the best candidate to represent their local community.
Virginia is ranked as one of the most gerrymandered states in the country. Both the congressional and state levels based on lack of compactness and contiguity districts. Throughout the Commonwealth, counties and cities are broken in half or into multiple pieces to create heavily partisan districts. This is systemically wrong and it is time to change this.
Reform must happen now before the next Census in 2020 and we must all do our part to take back our right to choose who represents the communities we live in.
So what can you do to make your vote count for your local community? Advocate for a change to the redistricting process. Personally, I am supporting to establish an impartial independent commission to draw the district lines. A fully transparent nonpartisan commission that would use objective, nonpartisan criteria and invites public participation in the process.
That is why I have joined a group of dedicated Virginians from across the political spectrum that believes our state and congressional districts belong to us, the citizens of the Commonwealth.
OneVirginia2021 is a legislative advocacy group instituting a comprehensive effort to remove gerrymandering from the redistricting process to restore our power to choose our representation, rather than continuing to let legislators choose their voters. Join the cause to fix this issue, call your representative let them know we want reform. For more information on this issue go to OneVirginia2021.org.
Educate yourself on the issue and do your part to make the vote count!
NOVA Regional Chair