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Legislators go back to the drawing board

January 5, 2012
The Inter-Mountain

With the decision handed down by the West Virginia Supreme Court on Tuesday, it appears state lawmakers will again have the task of organizing the Congressional redistricting plan.

The plan legislators approved during a special session in August, shifted Mason County from the 2nd District to the 3rd District and left the 1st District untouched. Now, the high court has concluded that violates the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause. Specifically, the panel said the population in the three districts aren't as equal as the could be.

The court has set a Jan. 17 deadline for the House and Senate to agree on a new plan. Otherwise, the court will set its own. As lawmakers prepare to go back to the drawing board, many representatives in our area aren't complaining. In fact, they are taking the duty most seriously saying the responsibility for making a redistricting plan rests upon the Legislature instead of the court system.

This willingness doesn't come without concern, however. Republicans and Democrats alike have and continue to bring up the gerrymandering that has occurred in other states. They also wonder whether one party or another in the Mountain State also will try to seek the advantage.

Some of our readers say they can't help but share the same curiosity. To this there could be a solution.

At Wednesday's Legislative Breakfast sponsored by the Elkins-Randolph County Chamber of Commerce, Delegates Denise Campbell and Bill Hartman, both D-Randolph, and Sen. Walt Helmick, D-Pocahontas, agreed that an independent third party should be handed the task. That, they said, would remove the political manoeuvring from the process.

As with many good ideas, there sometimes comes a catch. As Hartman said Tuesday, it may be difficult to find that neutral party.



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