As Jake Lynch noted in our first election post last week, not all West Virginians are represented equally within the West Virginia Statehouse. Which is why it is imperative that we work to make the political process more accessible to all people.
In response to the November 8 General, we decided to take a look at the demographics of the newly elected 2017 West Virginia Legislature. Let’s dive in.
The percentage of the legislature compromised of West Virginians aged 18 – 34 has now more than doubled.
This age group accounts for approximately 20 percent of West Virginia’s population, but prior to the November 8 election held less than 5 percent of seats in legislature.
That imbalance has been addressed somewhat. The 2017 legislature will include 16 members under the age of 34, almost 12 percent of the legislature.
However, one other underrepresented group saw their situation worsen.
Women comprise 51 percent of West Virginia’s total population, yet they account for a mere 12.6 percent of the 2017 Legislature.
Fourteen female delegates were elected to the House of Delegates in this latest election, which equates to 14 percent of the 100 member lower-legislative body, a drop from the 2014 election.
In the West Virginia Senate, 3 female representatives were elected, equating to 8.8 percent of the 34 person upper-legislative chamber.
(While female representation in the Senate remains low, it’s the highest it’s been since 2004. Female representation was highest in the West Virginia Senate in 1988, when 6 women were elected to the chamber.)
Senator Elect Patricia Rucker, a Republican from District 16, is one of the three women to join the upper chamber and is also a first generation American. Senator Elect Rucker immigrated to the United States in 1981 from Caracas, Venezuela.