Islands' Sounder


Voting in the 21st Century | Letter

February 13, 2013 · Updated 4:46 PM

Now seeing all the candidate’s signs along the road in an odd year just months after we had already elected our council members, I thought it would be informative for me to investigate the 1967 Dusch versus Davis case from Virginia Beach and the 1975 Dallas versus Reese case from Selma Alabama. More importantly, since these two cases are used in defending the return to our old grossly unequal districts and at-large voting scheme, I wanted to know if Virginia Beach and Dallas County (Selma) Alabama were still living by these rulings. In both cases, the answer is a resounding “NO.”

In 1994, Virginia Beach moved by referendum and General Assembly action to seven equal districts with seven of their district commissioners elected by district only, and four commissioners elected at-large. Dallas County, Alabama on the other hand was forced by the courts to drop their voting scheme once defended by the court in Dallas versus Reese. They now have four equal districts and five commissioners, four elected by district and one at-large.

In both Virginia Beach, and Alabama, the “rational” used to defend the same kind of at-large un-equal districts scheme in San Juan County has been defeated. Imagine where women would be today in regard to voting if archaic precedent would have been the only source of reason. The existence of, and a return to such a voting scheme defies common sense, which is why this issue has been hot in San Juan County for  four decades, and will continue to hold us back until we join the rest of the nation in upholding basic constitutional standards.

Jeff Bossler

Orcas Island

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