State lawmakers draw the boundaries that define the communities they represent in the House of Delegates and Senate, and those of their counterparts in the U.S. Congress. It’s an arrangement enshrined in Virginia’s constitution, a document adopted in 1971 and reflective of the technical limitations of that era. But as each decade has passed, lawmakers have managed to precisely draw boundaries in a way that tilts elections before they are held. A combination of voting records, population data and sophisticated software has permitted lawmakers and their partisan surrogates to identify and assign voters to districts in proportions that protect incumbents and political power. That explains how eight of Virginia’s 11 congressional races last fall were won by a margin of at least 20 percentage points. Or how, in 2013, barely half of the House of Delegates seats were contested. Or how, in 2011, just six of 40 seats in the state Senate were decided by 10 points or fewer. The winner of most races is determined long before Election Day. The electorally corrupt current system serves solely to preserve political power. It is designed to dilute voters’ voices.
A federal court already has declared Virginia’s congressional districts unconstitutional, noting lawmakers packed black voters into a bizarrely shaped district straddling the James River and stretching from Norfolk to Richmond.
… Proposals to change Virginia’s process have been approved in the state Senate. The measures aim to promote competitive elections and create compact, contiguous districts.
House Republicans, however, have shunned any suggestion that they’re manipulating the process, or that their logic is circular: “We’re just following the Constitution of Virginia. I think the present system works pretty well,” said Speaker William J. Howell, who has held his seat since 1988 and whose party controls two-thirds of the chamber.