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Department of Elections prepares for reapportionment, seeks funding

Joe Irizarry
Delaware Public Media

The Joint Finance Committee’s budget hearings Wednesday included a session with the Department of Elections and Human Resources.


The Department of Elections successfully ran Delaware’s 2020 elections amid a global pandemic.


Now, the department prepares for reapportionment, or redistricting state legislative seats after the 2020 census.  It is asking for $80,000 to handle its part of that work.


Elections Commissioner Anthony Albence explains where that money will go.


“The funds that we have for reapportionment are primarily for the technology pieces that we will need and equipment for mapping, etc,” said Albence.


The department isn’t seeking much additional funding because of the federal dollars it receives to improve election security.


State Rep. Ruth Briggs King (R-Georgetown) brought up concerns about polling places in Sussex County. Some locations saw long lines, with people waiting up to two hours, after it got dark.


Albence says the gears are already in motion to begin looking for new polling sites in Sussex County and expanding the Sussex elections department office.


State Rep. Kim Williams (D-Stanton) also brought up concerns about campaign signs. She says many political candidates post signs illegally on trees  and elsewhere, and don;t remove them after the 30 days given after an election.


State Sen. Trey Paradee (D-Dover) says he’s been talking with Albence about campaign signs and is working on legislation that could be coming in the future to address those concerns.


The JFC also met with the Department of Human Resources Wednesday.


The Delaware Department of Human Resources looks to launch a marketing campaign to fill many hard-to-fill vacancies across state agencies.


The department met with the JFC to justify those costs, along with rising insurance premiums.


Human Resources Director Amy Bonner says most hard-to-fill positions are jobs with high turnover rates.


“Primarily where we see those are our engineers, our HVAC positions are considered hard-to-fill,” she said. “Obviously we do still have a considerable number of vacancies in the nursing arena as well as in Correction.”


The department wants almost $200,000 to launch a new marketing campaign seeking people to fill those gaps in employment.


Bonner also explained the $1.5 million needed to cover rising insurance premiums. Her department includes the insurance division, which needs the money to pay for increasing costs to cover the Delaware State Police helicopters and state owned boats.


The Joint Finance Committee also met with the Department of State which is seeking money to cover library expansion in the First State, and fund the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, which delivers free books to young children.


The JFC meets with all of Delaware three public colleges and universities Thursday.


Roman Battaglia is a corps member withReport for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.

Roman Battaglia grew up in Portland, Ore, and now reports for Delaware Public Media as a Report For America corps member. He focuses on politics, elections and legislation activity at the local, county and state levels.
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