Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Dems: Don’t Backtrack on Gerrymandering Now

Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Dems: Don’t Backtrack on Gerrymandering Now

Delegate Ken Plum's Nov. 13 Connection/Gazette piece correctly notes that Virginia’s 2019 election results shift the state toward elected leaders who are more representative of our demographics. However, I question his statement, "Some results called historic today will become commonplace in the future as the General Assembly reflects more the demographics of the state as a whole." We cannot have a General Assembly that reflects our state's diverse population and interests unless we change how Virginia draws our voting districts.

Our current system allows the legislators to draw their voting districts. That's an obvious conflict of interest, and it deprives voters of fair representation. Modern gerrymandering uses sophisticated technology to identify voter preferences and manipulate districts. The time to change this is now. Based on results from the 2020 census, Virginia will draw new voting districts in 2021. In 2019, the General Assembly approved the “first reading” of a state constitutional amendment that will make redistricting a bi-partisan process. If the amendment passes again next year, voters are predicted to adopt it by a three to one margin in a 2020 referendum.

This is a historic opportunity. The bill passed in 2019 will provide one of the strongest redistricting reforms of any state in the U.S.

Now that they control the executive branch and both chambers of the legislature, some Democratic legislators are vacillating in their support for the amendment. If the General Assembly doesn't approve the second reading of the 2019 language, we will be stuck for the next decade with our corrupt system of letting politicians choose their voters.

Democrats ran for office on promises of a new way of governing. If they backtrack on redistricting, we won't have the vibrant, diverse, representative democracy that Delegate Plum suggests is inevitable with our changing demographics.

Douglas Stewart