Leahy: The Problem With Virginia’s Election That No One Wants To Talk About

Away from the bright lights and hubbub of Virginia’s gubernatorial race, the commonwealth’s new redistricting commission is going about its task of redrawing the district boundaries for the General Assembly. It’s supposed to have drafts ready by Oct. 10.

I have been skeptical of the commission’s ability to meaningfully change Virginia’s political culture, and state Sen. George L. Barker’s (D-Fairfax) recent move to make sure he wasn’t redistricted out of a job is a case in point. Fortunately, and in the commission’s favor, Barker’s self-interested move happened in the full light of day rather than a political consultant’s office.

That’s good, and we should expect even more transparency as the commission continues its job of drawing new boundaries in time for the 2023 elections.

Wait — 2023? What about the elections this November? That’s the story no one in Capitol Square really wants to talk about.

This year’s House of Delegates races — primaries and the general — are being run in districts drawn using 2010 census data. That’s a constitutional problem. And state lawmakers have known about it for months.

Only Del. Lee J. Carter (D-Manassas) has pushed the issue. In April, Carter sent a letter to Attorney General Mark R. Herring (D) asking for a “formal opinion” on the “constitutionality of the 2021 elections for the House of Delegates being conducted under electoral districts established in 2011.”

Herring, who is running for reelection, has issued no such opinion, which doesn’t square with his legal responsibilities to do so.

Why the cold shoulder? A possible answer comes from Marcus B. Simon (D-Fairfax), a redistricting commission member, who in March said, “Everybody’s taken the conservative approach; the less said, the better.”

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