Editorial: Purple State

Editorial: Purple State

Nonpartisan redistricting could support the best interests of the population, not the politicians.

While the case of Virginia gerrymandering argued before the Supreme Court on March 21 does not impact Congressional Districts in Northern Virginia, it shows again that partisan efforts have diminished voter power in the Commonwealth.

This is one of multiple challenges in the courts about how political boundaries are drawn in Virginia.

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, as we have said in previous editorials.

Here are the actual numbers:

In 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

In 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?

Virginia’s 11 Congressional districts should be split about evenly. You could understand a split of 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. Political parties should not control the drawing of political districts. Gerrymandering thwarts the will of the voters.

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.

The courts will have a hand in redrawing boundaries in some Virginia districts. It’s past time for courts to challenge political gerrymandering in general. Virginia’s current system is an incumbent protection plan. Every incumbent who sought reelection to the General Assembly last November won. Why? Their districts were drawn for them, not for the voters who live there.

Virginia should embrace nonpartisan redistricting that supports the best interests of the population, not the politicians.