Editorial: Four Questions About Virginia Politics | Editorial

2. How many Democratic voters will vote to strip the party of absolute power during next year’s district reorganization in Virginia? One of the most interesting flip flops was that of Virginia Democrats, who spent decades calling for a district reorganization committee to draw legislative lines, voted for a constitutional amendment in 2019 to do just that, and then decided in 2020 that it was a bad idea, after all. What happened in between? Well, the Democrats gained control of the General Assembly in the 2019 election, which means that if nothing changes, they will have full power to redraw the lines after the census numbers arrive in 2021.

There’s just one small problem: Virginians have a chance this November to adopt a constitutional amendment that would assign district reorganization power to a bipartisan commission. It’s not a perfect job, by any means. There are many ways to quibble about how this commission would be structured: too many legislators required in the panel, no specific guarantees on minority representation, and so on. Elections, however, are binary choices. The choice for Virginians is effectively this: Do you want Democrats to have exclusive power to draw the lines for next year or do you want them to share power with Republicans? The Democrats of Virginia are now officially advocating that the amendment be rejected. How many voters who vote for Democratic candidates this fall will get along? A corollary: how many Republican voters will vote to give Democrats this power? For years, Republicans have officially opposed this commission. Now that they are in the minority, they have found that it has some merit, after all. For Republican voters, the case is clear: Which Republican wants to let Democrats and Democrats design new districts for themselves? Democratic voters may have more trouble making a decision: after years of supporting a philosophical argument for a committee, are they setting it aside in favor of uncontrolled power? And, assuming the amendment’s commission isn’t perfect, do the Democrats decide to let the perfect be the enemy of the good? Forget the presidential race: This amendment may be the most fascinating thing to vote in Virginia this fall.


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