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Friday, February 3, 2023
ArlingtonOpinionEditorial: Redistricting process gets the job done

Editorial: Redistricting process gets the job done

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It was more than a little like the sausage-making process – inquire too intently and you’re sure to lose your appetite – but in the end, the new procedure for redistricting congressional and legislative seats across the Old Dominion worked as put in place by Virginia voters.

Those voters in 2019 approved a process by which redistricting, long the province of the General Assembly (and, below the radar, Virginia’s members of the U.S. House of Representatives), was delegated to a redistricting commission comprised of both legislators and citizen members.

As it played out, and perhaps to no one’s surprise, that panel quickly fell out over partisan bickering and failed to deliver workable recommendations.

But the constitutional amendment OK’d by voters had a backstop provision – failing agreement by the redistricting body, the measure was kicked up to the Virginia Supreme Court as, literally, the court of last resort.
The justices hired experts to help draw the boundaries, and on Dec. 28 unanimously approved a plan for new lines in the 11 congressional districts, 40 state Senate districts and 100 House of Delegates districts.

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A bumpy ride? Yes. But mission accomplished, more or less as it should have been.

Oh, there have been some voices of discontent raised about the process. Partisan political hacks on the left have tried to scuttle the legitimacy of the process just as they tried unsuccessfully to convince voters to reject it at the polls two years ago, by claiming a “Republican” Virginia Supreme Court would act in an overtly partisan manner.

First of all, there’s no “Republican” court. And second, the end result of the boundary massage is essentially a wash in terms of how it impacts the balance of power.

There will be, as there always are in redistricting, winners and losers. One big winner is U.S. Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-10th), who prior to the lines of her district being redrawn was seen as an imperiled Democratic incumbent.

Proving once again in her political career that it’s better to be lucky than particularly talented, Wexton will benefit from a rejiggered 10th District that is much more Democratic-friendly. Republicans can scratch her seat from prospective pickups, even if there is a GOP wave in November.

Nobody expected this new way of drawing districts to go perfectly, nor did it. But on balance, we think the decision of voters in 2019 has proved the correct one.

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