The West Virginia House of Delegates passed a bill Monday that could fundamentally alter the chamber’s political and electoral landscape. House Bill 4002 would nix the state’s reliance on multimember districts, where residents in certain areas vote for more than one delegate, yielding more than one winner. Following the decennial census, the bill would compel the Legislature to draw 100 single-member districts. In West Virginia’s 67 House districts, 11 of those districts have two members, six districts have three members, two districts have four members, and one district has five members. The vote passed 72-25. Of the 25 “no” votes, only three came from delegates who represent single-member districts: Phillip Diserio, D-Brooke; Ed Evans, D-McDowell; and Isaac Sponaugle, D-Pendleton. Fifty-three delegates serve in multimember districts.
Three Republicans voted against the bill: Vernon Criss, R-Wood; John Kelly, R-Wood; and Guy Ward, R-Marion, all from multimember districts. A chunk of Democrats also broke from party leadership and voted with Republicans.
West Virginia is one of 10 states that has multimember districts, and one of two (along with New Hampshire) to have House districts with more than two members, House Judiciary Chairman John Shott, R-Mercer, said in a floor speech.