Publication Details

With Overwhelming Support for Nonpartisan Redistricting, Virginians are Studying Ways to Make That Happen

Authors:

Benjamin M. Harris | Stephen J. Farnsworth

Date Published:

June 27, 2014

Publication Type:

Periodical

Publication Series:

The Virginia News Letter

By large margins, Virginians don’t like the idea of politicians creating their own legislative districts. The once-a-decade exercise known as redistricting, which next rolls around in 2021, is a powerful tool for lawmakers to keep themselves and their party in office. When a district is obviously drawn just for that purpose, the process is known as gerrymandering.

This article, written by Benjamin M. Harris, a 2014 graduate from the University of Mary Washington (UMW) with a B.A. in political science and Stephen J. Farnsworth, a UMW professor of political science, points out that efforts at reform are now under way in Virginia. A key one is a bipartisan group named “OneVirginia2021.” The group hopes to inspire a statewide dialogue about gerrymandering well in advance of the next redistricting in 2021. Another group advocating reform is the Virginia Redistricting Coalition.

The article examines in detail the efforts by Iowa, Arizona, and California to reform their redistricting processes.

Virginia’s method of redistricting is more difficult than in many states because it is codified in Article II, Section 6 of its constitution, which states that districts of both the U.S. House of Representatives and the General Assembly will be drawn by the General Assembly. “As such, any long-lasting changes to Virginia’s redistricting system must be passed through constitutional amendment,” Harris and Farnsworth write.