Every 10 years, a new U.S. census sets the stage for a round of political redistricting in Virginia and the nation. It also brings the likelihood that the boundaries of some newly drawn voting districts will be manipulated in an obvious effort to benefit one political party. This popular but unfair practice is called gerrymandering. Virginia, with a history of gerrymandering going back to the earliest days of the nation, should begin a reform process immediately to prepare for the redistricting that the 2010 census will require. Stroupe, chief of staff at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics and a member of the state Commission on Civics Education, recommends that the legislature strongly consider establishing an independent panel of current or former state judges to assist in redistricting.
Gerrymandering isn't always the reason for low political competition and low voter turnout. But, to the extent this form of political manipulation results in voter apathy and suppression, it serves as a significant limitation on one of the greatest exercises of liberty possessed by the citizens of this state and nation. Stroupe writes, “It is time the ‘Cradle of Democracy’ became the ‘Graveyard of Gerrymandering.’”
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