Why this is one of Virginia’s most important elections ever


Image via WTOP

While some students may just see local elections as just a day off school, Virginia’s election is a highly contentious race that has been gaining attention from celebrities and campaigns all across the country. Voters will head to the polls on November 5, 2019 from 6am to 7pm to cast their vote on school board members, House of Delegate and Senate seats, in what is being considered one of the most import elections in Virginia’s history. This could be one of Virginia’s last elections as a non-gerrymandered state ever, and Virginia’s first chance to have a completely Democratic state representative body for the first time in almost 30 years. 

Virginia has had a long and storied history with gerrymandering. Dating back to their design by Founding Father and Virginian Patrick Henry, the districts in Virginia have been manipulated to stifle voters for generations. In 1789, Patrick Henry altered voting districts to block James Madison from winning Virginia’s election. This practice made Virginia the first state to experience gerrymandering in US history (though gerrymandering was not defined until 1812), and one of Virginia’s Founding Fathers the first to do it. This has continued for hundreds of years, being used to particularly suppress non-White voters. A Supreme Court ruling in June of 2017 rejected Virginia’s former districts on the basis of racial gerrymandering, forcing the lines to be redrawn. Many rejoiced at this ruling, saying that this gives non-White and Democratic Virginians a fair chance.

If Virginia’s senate turns blue (Democratic) it will be the very first time Virginia will be completely consolidated as Democrats, and it could help improve the anti-gerrymandering efforts. In 2018, the House flipped blue during what may have called Virginia’s “blue tsunami,” and many are looking to do it to the Senate. Virginia’s former Governor Terry McAuliffe who toyed with running for president late in the spring of 2019, spoke out in favor of turning Virginia blue, “Do not rest! Do not sleep! Stop everybody you see — if they don’t stop, tackle ’em! Explain to them why this is so important…We are going to make Virginia a new state.” Governor McAulliffe turned Virginia blue during his race during his race in 2013, and was the first candidate in Virginia in 40 years to be elected governor as a member of the sitting president’s party. He has made it clear he wants to help break another record. 

Virginia’s Republican Party didn’t take Governor McAuliffe’s words as inspiring. Virginia Republican Party Chairman Jack Wilson wrote about McAuliffe’s quote in a fundraising email,“It should send shivers down your spine. This should be a grave warning to patriots like yourself. If the Soros-Bloomberg Democrats win the General Assembly this November — YOU WON’T RECOGNIZE VIRGINIA ANYMORE.” Things are growing more and more urgent for Virginia’s Republican party, as Virginia’s Democratic party is flooded with donations and even visits from actor Alec Baldwin, who helped canvas for Democrats.

This has been a tense and scandal filled year in Virginia’s politics, so this election gives Virginians a chance to make their voices heard. For all voters, this is an exciting chance to exercise their democratic right in a completely fair election for the first time. This is a monumental election for Virginia.


[Update: this piece was updated in 2021 to include the context of Virginia offering the redistricting options on the ballot in 2020.]