The Jan. 6 Local Opinions essay by Ken Cuccinelli II and Ward Armstrong, “Amend Virginia’s constitution to ban gerrymandering,” laid out a plan to “ban gerrymandering” in Virginia. The writers proposed establishing a citizen commission to create all district maps. The commission would be made up of “three Republicans, three Democrats and four independents.” And that’s the rub — Virginia is a state without declared party affiliation. Party membership is voluntary. Virginians may vote in either primary.
And in reality, what is an independent in Virginia? The first round of applicant screening would rest on retired judges (selected by party leaders in the General Assembly), and the final round of screening would be the responsibility of these same party leaders. Even if a strikeout system were used, there would be no way to fully verify the party affiliation (or lack of one) of the applicants. A lot of games could be played within these parameters. Why not use demographers, cartographers and legal experts to draft maps? As written, this plan may not meet the stated goal: to put “citizens’ interests above partisan political interests.”
Diana Smith, Reston