Sunday, January 27, 2013


Click om image for a larger view. Source: Cook Political Report, 2013.
Rochester, N.Y. – Gerrymandering is necessary when your political ideas have no appeal. It is ripping a gigantic hole in the fabric of our American democracy. Furthermore, it looks like Virginia is going to be the bell of the ball and the center of attention when it comes to election law this year-- to no one's surprise the Republicans are already playing very dirty. Un-freakin-believable.

This week a Republican-controlled senate subcommittee approved a radical plan to award the state's electoral votes from winner-take-all to parceling them out by Congressional district.

Virginia Republicans are the latest offenders in the sorry saga of politicians seeking to contort the voting process to help their party, and they are going for it in a big way.

First, they shoved a bill through the state Senate that would significantly gerrymander voting jurisdictions for that chamber’s members to benefit the GOP. They did so without hearings in a year when the state constitution suggests they have no business making such changes. These things usually happen every decade.

Still, let’s be objective. The Democrats do it, too. The GOP has done it more in the current census cycle nationwide, because it controls more state governments. But both parties are guilty.

In the 2012 U.S. congressional elections, and because of partisan gerrymandering, the GOP won a 33-seat majority in the House even though Democrats won 50.4 percent of the popular vote.

And even though voters overwhelmingly supported Democrats for President and for Congress, the Republicans now want to change the rules of the game to make sure your voice doesn’t count and they win at any cost.

It's the new Republican gameplan: if you can't win fair, twist the rules and screw everything else. And if it works in Virginia, you better believe Republican leaders in battlegrounds like Michigan, Florida, Wisconsin, and Ohio will follow.

The GOP risks setting a precedent that would lead to constant redistricting battles not only in Virginia, but in all the battle ground states governed by a GOP majority.  That would aggravate partisan hostilities even more and distract legislators from dealing with budget talks, issues of national security, educating our kids, curbing gun violence, passing climate change legislation, re-building our roads and other issues that affect citizens more directly.

The controversy should prompt the public and responsible politicians on both sides to demand adoption of a nonpartisan process for drawing election maps. California and some other states have given the job to bipartisan commissions, with generally positive results.

Unfortunately, that’s unlikely to happen right now, because the GOP currently has an interest nationally in protecting existing gerrymanders and are running out of ideas to stay politically relevant. Here’s a tip for the RNC— marginalize those crazy wacko Tea Party folks who are destroying your Party and move to the political center of the continuum.

I don’t know about you but this GOP strategy really pisses me off. And, I believe working families understand how important it is to fight for fair elections. We’re definitely gonna fight this crap. We're going to develop a plan to hold the line in Virginia by organizing, organizing and organizing some more -- and we need your help to make it happen. Stay tuned to further developments.

-Ove Overmyer
This opinion does not necessarily reflect the views of CSEA as an organization.

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