Letter to the Editor: City’s election process is undemocratic

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To the editor:

This is in response to your final report on the mid-term elections for city council. As you reported, all of the elected city council members were sponsored by the Democratic Party. The overall way the election was conducted, from the primary to the November election, was an absolute sham. There was no way that any minority party could possibly win unless the Democrats did not come out and vote.

As you may know, at-large elections have been declared illegal in many communities across our country since the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 because they were determined to be discriminatory. At-large elections permit the majority faction in the community – be it racial, religious, or political – to win all seats on their city council. Therefore, the minorities do not get any representation on the council even though their percentage in the community in many cases would have justified one or two seats.

This is the same thing that is happening in Alexandria, where the minority parties are being effectively shut-out for representation on the city council. In the last election, votes for the Democratic candidates for the Senate and House of Representatives were about 80 percent of all votes cast.

In the city council election, we saw about the same distribution with the six Democrats receiving between 70 and 80 percent of the votes when corrected for the fact that each voter could vote for up to six candidates and the top Republican got more than 20 percent of the vote.

In a fair election, one would assume that the Republicans should have won about 20 percent of the city council seats, or about one seat. But because of the way the elections are run in this city, the majority party is able to effectively shut out any minority party.

This needs to be corrected.

One way to correct this is to divide the city into precincts or wards and have people vote only for the candidates representing their precinct or ward. Then the city council member representing them would truly be representing their interests.

Another way, which is not as effective, would be to not allow any political party primary prior to the city council election. All candidates would be on the November ballot with no party affiliation. Unfortunately, this would probably result in the majority party having a caucus to limit the number of candidates the party puts on the final ballot.

The purpose of a democracy is to provide representation for all, regardless of religious belief, political party, race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. It is shameful that our city has an electoral process that is not democratic.

-James J. Melton, Alexandria

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