Virginia Dems Finally Have Chance to Strike Down Gerrymandering | RealClearPolitics

Virginia Dems Finally Have Chance to Strike Down Gerrymandering

This editorial appears in The Washington Post: - - - With control of both houses of the state legislature in their grasp starting in January, along with the governor's office, Virginia Democrats will have agenda-setting power in Richmond for the first time in a generation. Legislation to promote gun safety, safeguard abortion rights and expand early- childhood education, among other broadly popular measures, are top talking points for many lawmakers in the party's new majority caucus. Lest they forget, Democrats can also push the Old Dominion a critical step closer to fixing a long-standing defect by leveling the electoral playing field and, in the process, empowering Virginia voters to choose their candidates, rather than the other way around. We're speaking of a proposed state constitutional amendment on redistricting reform, which would strike a badly needed and much-delayed blow against gerrymandering in a state where it has been common practice. For years, this page has skewered politicians of both parties - in Virginia, Maryland and elsewhere - for using ever more sophisticated computer models to fine-tune the electoral map to their own advantage, drawing maps for congressional and state legislative districts that are job-protection rackets for incumbents. By slicing and dicing communities, counties, towns and cities, lawmakers have ensured their own holds on power - and shamelessly manipulated unsuspecting voters. Federal judges, backed by the Supreme Court, gave Virginia a wake-up call by ordering a redo last year of the state legislative map drawn by Republicans in 2011. (An equally if not more egregious congressional map was drawn by Democrats the same year in Maryland.) That prompted a rethink by GOP lawmakers in Richmond, who had long opposed redistricting reform. After extensive wrangling, the two...

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