I was interested in David Hagginbothom’s letter in the Virginia Gazette on Aug. 27. I agree that Virginia has been a swing state for the past 50 years. Virginia is governed by a Republican controlled General Assembly and our congressional representatives are overwhelmingly Republican. However, all the state-wide office holders are Democrats. The letter writer refers to the situation as “Schizophrenic Virginia” implying that citizens choose their representatives in the General Assembly and U.S. Congress. While it is true that all Virginians have an equal voice in statewide offices, that is not the reality in the congressional and General Assembly districts.
All 100 seats in the House, 40 seats in the Senate and 13 Congressional districts are determined by the party in charge of House of Delegates in the “Privileges and Election” committee. This committee has the power to determine the boundaries of each district and they have drawn the lines to allow the best chance for their own party to win the election. This is gerrymandering and many consider it unethical, but legal. The law indicates that voting districts should be contiguous and reflect communities of interest so that localities will have a representative who reflects the interests of each community. At present, the Representatives get to choose their voters by drawing boundaries that cross rivers and divide neighborhoods.
The League of Women Voters and other civic groups have been attempting to change the process that is used to choose the districts. Not only should civic minded citizens vote, they should also take time to voice their concerns to elected officials.