Virginia is considered a “purple state”.
Virginia’s legislature has 100 seats, 66 of which are currently held by Republicans. Many of these won by very slim margins, and many of those districts were carried by Hillary Clinton in the presidential election. Bottom line, we don’t think it will take much to turn the state legislature blue.
Why state legislature seats?
State legislatures are crucial to the outcome of national elections.
The Republican party currently controls 32 of the nation’s 50 state legislatures. In 25 of these states with Republican legislatures, the governor is Republican, too.
Republican governors and Republican state legislatures use the following tools to influence the outcomes of elections:
- Redistricting – the practice of redrawing the lines of electoral districts, which takes place every 10 years. When district lines are redrawn in ways intended to benefit one political party, we call it gerrymandering. Gerrymandering is a corrupt practice that skews election results and removes agency from the voters.
- Voter ID laws – laws that require voters to show photo identification before voting. These laws disproportionately affect minorities and lower-income voters—groups that have historically supported the Democratic party.
- Voter registration laws – discriminatory laws that create obstacles to registration (e.g. requiring voters to provide proof of citizenship). As Republican power at the state level increases, it becomes easier for Republican lawmakers to pass ever stricter voter ID and registration laws, which in turn makes it easier for Republicans to win elections.
Republican-engineered gerrymandering and voter suppression are widespread across the country, in large part because of Republican trifectas.
To fight back against these anti-democratic practices, we must gain control of state legislatures.
State legislators, in conjunction with governors, have an awesome power to shape the norms of our democracy. We need to put this power in the hands of trusted progressive leaders.