Every 10 years, the commonwealth of Virginia redraws district lines in response to new census information. Because this process often becomes overly politicized, this year, the state held a competition among Virginia colleges to come up with a new redistricting program. The College of William and Mary’s team won the competition; their proposal was submitted as a bill but widely ignored by the legislature, an insult to the knowledgeable students who created the plan and another sad show of partisan politics in the Virginia legislature.
The plan selected by the legislature favors incumbent politicians in the redrawing of lines. In Virginia, Republicans control the House of Delegates; Democrats control the Senate. In order to protect their own districts, the delegates and senators created a proposal to ensure the safety of the incumbents of both houses. The plan was comprised of two parts, one pertaining to delegates and another to senators. Gov. Bob McDonnell, surprisingly, vetoed the bill.
Not only was the have bill considered driven by party lines, but it also would have negatively affected the City of Williamsburg. The bill would split the city would into two separate districts, possibly weakening the city’s interests in Richmond — and thus some of the College’s interests. Mayor Clyde Haulman and the City Council sent a letter to the governor encouraging him to veto the bill.
The entire situation is a story of petty politics. Yes, we understand that we are only college students, but the College’s team had a good, balanced plan and one to which Williamsburg residents probably wouldn’t have been so opposed. Maybe now, after the gerrymandering failure, the legislature should look again at the fair proposal. The unfair, partisan plan obviously didn’t work.