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Keep political parties out of redistricting

I went from politically agnostic to an activist.

It wasn’t that I didn’t care about politics — government has been fascinating to me for years — but until recently I fundamentally believed that I couldn’t do anything about how government worked. I took the convenient and common stance of washing my hands of the whole business. Fortunately, I changed my mind. As I became more aware of what was going on, my reaction wasn’t to detach but to decide to look around and see what could be done.

If there’s one thing in particular that has changed in my political outlook for the better over the recent messy, painful years in government it is that it is possible for things to change. It is obvious among even the most staunchly partisan actors. The GOP, the free-market party of Reagan put the signature of their president on direct cash relief payments. Who would have predicted that? What was predictable was people’s reactions. They like it when their country pulls together and does things that directly improve their lives and their neighbors’.

There are a lot of people spending a lot of money to convince you that if we don’t preserve the status quo, we’re going to get hurt somehow. In some ways that is true; West Virginia uses paper ballots, which ensures that voters can see their vote as it is cast. Other states don’t have that privilege. West Virginians are automatically registered to vote through the DMV, but other states require extra steps for eligible, legal voters. Things can change. Our job is to try and make those changes positive ones, and not simply hold on to the past.

Right now, there is a potential negative change looming in West Virginia; the congressional districts in West Virginia must be redrawn. This will be done at the state level through the legislature and then approved by the governor. This means that, with both the state House and Senate controlled by the Governor’s party, they can draw what they like. In order to prevent totally partisan redrawing of districts, the federal government could step in and mandate districts be assigned by an independent body. There is a bill in DC right now that would make that happen and, according to a recent poll by RepresentUs, 71 percent of voters in West Virginia support the provisions of that bill. That includes 66 percent of all Trump voters and 82 percent of all Biden voters polled.

Urge your Senator to support the For the People Act. Keep WV elections free from partisan redistricting.

Ethan Kirl

Parkersburg

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