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Bad Split

Congressional Map Needs Second Look

Lawmakers in West Virginia have some work to do if they want to ensure all areas of the state have the opportunity to grow in the future, as a congressional map moved out of the state Senate Redistricting Committee Monday was the easy yet incorrect choice in how to split the Mountain State into two districts.

The proposed map would see the growing areas of Morgantown and Martinsburg included in a new 1st Congressional District. The new district also would include the Northern Panhandle, run along the Ohio River to Wood County, and then cover Doddridge, Lewis, Upshur, Randolph and Pendleton counties along with the entire Eastern Panhandle.

That puts the rest of the state into a new 2nd Congressional District. Every county in that district lost population from 2010 to 2020, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

That’s why it would make more sense to split Morgantown and Martinsburg into two separate districts. Doing so would ensure that each district has a chance to grow over the next decade — both in terms of population and economic output.

The right way to split the districts — one that would be fairer for all residents, in the long run — is a line that begins on the eastern edge of Tucker County and then makes its way across the state in a not-quite-so horizontal manner. This plan would have Wheeling, Morgantown, Parkersburg and Charleston in District 1; and Martinsburg, Beckley and Huntington in District 2.

It’s time to do what is right for West Virginia. Keeping the growth areas separate gives the state a chance to flourish.

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