Vot­ers will be watch­ing the Va. leg­is­la­tors who nixed re­dis­trict­ing reform

The Washington Post Sunday - - SUNDAY OPINION -

On Tues­day morn­ing, as the eyes of the na­tion were fixed on the chaos in the White House, five Repub­li­can mem­bers of a Vir­ginia House of Del­e­gates sub­com­mit­tee dealt a quick and quiet death to all hopes that the Gen­eral Assem­bly might ap­prove mod­est bi­par­ti­san re­dis­trict­ing re­forms this year.

On party-line votes, they re­jected two Se­nate res­o­lu­tions that would have put re­dis­trict­ing reform on the statewide bal­lot in 2018 and a Se­nate bill that would have cre­ated an in­terim re­dis­trict­ing com­mis­sion to re­draw the lines if state and con­gres­sional dis­trict lines are de­clared un­con­sti­tu­tional.

As long as politi­cians can pick their vot­ers and en­sure, as was the case in the 2015 Vir­ginia elec­tions, that not a sin­gle in­cum­bent leg­is­la­tor was de­feated for re­elec­tion, our po­lar­ized po­lit­i­cal sys­tem — in Wash­ing­ton and in Rich­mond — will per­sist. Vot­ers of both par­ties are now tak­ing names — in this case, the five leg­is­la­tors — S. Chris Jones (R-Suf­folk), Mark L. Cole (R-Spot­syl­va­nia), Mar­garet B. Ran­sone (RWest­more­land), Hyland F. Fowler Jr. (R-Hanover) and Les­lie R. Adams (R-Pitt­syl­va­nia) — who saved the rest of their party from hav­ing to vote on the is­sue. Four of these leg­is­la­tors were un­op­posed in 2015, and the fifth won with 60 per­cent of the vote. Is it any won­der that they have a stake in per­pet­u­at­ing the process of po­lit­i­cal ger­ry­man­der­ing?

Sara Fitzger­ald, Falls Church The writer was a mem­ber of the re­dis­trict­ing reform study com­mit­tee of the League of Women

Vot­ers of Vir­ginia be­fore the 2011 re­dis­trict­ing.

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