Local Commentary

Editorial: Hopeful News On Redistricting

Virginia’s House of Delegates Democratic Leader Del. Eileen Filler-Corn and Caucus Chair Del. Charniele Herring released a joint statement in response to the U.S. District Court’s order Tuesday night proposing new legislative maps as part of the ongoing litigation surrounding eleven racially gerrymandered House of Delegates districts. They wrote, “When a federal court rules that eleven Virginia legislative districts are racial gerrymanders in violation of the U.S. Constitution, it is incumbent upon our legislature and judicial system to ensure Virginians are represented in constitutional districts. A consequence of undoing gerrymandered maps is that the partisan makeup of some districts may change, but we cannot place partisan politics above the U.S. Constitution. We are pleased that Virginians will have constitutional districts for the November elections.”

It is clear that the outcome of the U.S. courts will result in more state delegate districts going toward the expected Democratic Party control of the Virginia House of Delegates, a result that is not based on partisan one-upmanship, but of justice and fairness. The Republican Party, it is sad to say, has been tireless in its efforts to suppress votes of citizens of this nation, and that party’s efforts in Virginia have been no exception. We commend the efforts of others, such as the nonpartisan League of Women Voters (LWV), to stand against this trend with reasonable proposals for a fairer and more just way of drawing electoral district lines that will hopefully be settled in Virginia in time for the 2021 redistricting year.

Plans, as Sara Fitzgerald of the Falls Church LWV outlined to the monthly luncheon of the Falls Church Chamber of Commerce last week, are to win enough bipartisan support for state constitutional amendment to put redistricting into the hands of non-partisan entities (now it is determined by whichever party is in the majority of the Senate). A vote on this must come in this session in Richmond, and then again in next year’s session (with a necessary state legislative election in between) for a constitutional amendment to appear on the 2020 ballot and, if passed, go into effect for the 2021 census calculations and resultant redistricting.

It is a crucial step in the steady progress toward electoral justice in Virginia. If the GOP is going to insist on stonewalling against this development, then it will only be speeding its demise as a factor in Virginia politics in the future. Similar unenlightened efforts sped the transition of California from a red (Republican) to a deep blue (Democratic) state in just the last two decades, and as this is the process now underway in Virginia, so it is also in Texas, where time will only tell how long until the growing Hispanic population there will overwhelm the polls. Then, because of the stupidity of the GOP and its refusal to find a way to embrace the Hispanic vote, it may never win another national election again.