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Politics & Government

State lawmakers finally kick off their redistricting process

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Tom Byrne
/
Delaware Public Media

The Delaware General Assembly is finally beginning its redistricting process, after many delays.

 

Delaware’s General Assembly finally released a preliminary outline for its redistricting process, where new lines are drawn for each legislative district.

 

In Delaware, lawmakers handle the process, which some election reform advocates say is counter-intuitive.

 

Claire Snyder-Hall is the director of Common Cause Delaware, a progressive lobbying group.

 

“Redistricting, a lot of everyday people consider it, it sounds dry and seems kinda technocratic so people don’t necessarily understand how important it is to their daily lives — cause it’s a little bit abstracted,” she said.

 

Snyder-Hall says that’s why it’s been difficult to build momentum or make any moves to reform the way districts are drawn in the state.

 

She adds creating a non-partisan redistricting committee would need approval of state lawmakers, and they may not want to approve something that takes away their powers.

 

“The problem is that sometimes legislators, when they draw the lines, their primary focus is advancing their own interests — either the interests of the majority party that controls the redistricting process, or they wanna protect incumbents,” Snyder-Hall said. “So lines are drawn in a way that advantages elected officials instead of being drawn in a way that allows communities to stay together and have a voice in deciding who represents them.”

 

That’s why Common Cause and other groups are focused on identifying communities of interest, places where a group of people may share common issues, or have similar cultures.

 

Ensuring those are identified and shared with lawmakers helps ensure their voices are heard by one lawmaker, and not five.

 

The General Assembly has a new website offering more information about the process, access to data, and a schedule of upcoming public information sessions.

 

And they plan to hold a public information session in late September with an overview of the process and timeline.

 

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

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