Virginia is one of the few true swing states in both presidential and gubernatorial elections, as evidenced by the exorbitant amount of time and money spent there by the national parties and outside groups. But this does not translate into competitive elections for the House of Delegates. The Republican Party has an iron grip on its majority, and this week 45 of 100 districts are completely uncontested. In 2011, it was even worse: 63 “races” were uncontested.
No-contest elections are just the latest evidence of the failure of Virginia’s winner-take-all, single-member district system. Winner-take-all inherently represents voters poorly and tempts partisans to gerrymander outcomes. Nonpartisan redistricting makes sense but would still leave a majority of Virginia’s races without meaningful two-party competition. A better approach is to combine nonpartisan redistricting with a new voting method: ranked choice voting, which is a candidate-based form of proportional representation used in a growing number of American cities.
Richie is executive director of FairVote (www.fairvote.org) a national, nonpartisan organization based in Maryland.