Election season is in full swing. This year, it is not a presidential election to which I am referring, of course—both parties’ candidates and the initial GOP debates to the contrary—but on Nov. 3, registered voters 18 and older can go to the polls to elect Virginia Senate and House of Delegates seats throughout our commonwealth. Of course, not all of the eligible registered voters will participate in what is perhaps our most holy of democratic traditions. Some may be turned away for not having the correct photo ID—a potential impediment not required in recent decades in Virginia, before last year’s elections. Virginia legislators, it seems, must spend much of their time away from Richmond looking under their beds for practically nonexistent fraudulent voters, thereby disenfranchising many of whom they perceive as the “wrong” voters.
Some Virginians will not vote because once upon a time they committed a felony and have not jumped through the hoops now required to vote. Some will not participate because of the tightening of regulations regarding voter registration and the more convenient early voting practices of 2008 that put a black man into the White House. And some will stay away from the polls because they feel—and rightfully so—that there’s no point. The winners have been selected for them, long before Election Day.
As the system stands today, thanks to the shameful practice of gerrymandering, politicians are picking their voters instead of the voters selecting their office-holders. Our congressional and state voting districts are drawn by state legislators. This has, by design, resulted in entirely too many uncontested elections. The party not backing an incumbent simply sees no point in running a candidate for what is a foregone conclusion.
Often, when there are opposition candidates, the voters perceive that there is no true competition. The party in power faces little danger in its candidate being unseated because it has selected the results for us. This is democracy?