Senate committee takes final step in Delaware redistricting process

By Glenn Rolfe
Posted 3/23/22

DOVER — A closing step in a once-in-a-decade redistricting process was taken Wednesday at Legislative Hall.

Following the House of Representatives’ lead, the Senate Executive Committee …

You must be a member to read this story.

Join our family of readers for as little as $5.99 per month and support local, unbiased journalism.


Already a member? Log in to continue.   Otherwise, follow the link below to join.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Senate committee takes final step in Delaware redistricting process

Posted

DOVER — A closing step in a once-in-a-decade redistricting process was taken Wednesday at Legislative Hall.

Following the House of Representatives’ lead, the Senate Executive Committee cast favorable support to House Bill 335, which allows tweaks to new Senate and House of Representative districts as recommended by the Department of Elections.

The committee reported six votes on merits and listed it ready for consideration.

HB 335 previously passed the House on March 17 with 39 yes votes with two abstentions.

The proposed legislative districts were approved by Gov. John Carney in November. However, HB 335 verifies border adjustments made by the Department of Elections, changes intended to minimize the need for new election districts and increase elections’ efficiency.

“The bill is expected to clean up legislative districts,” said Sen. Pro Tempore David Sokola, D-Newark. “The effect of Senate, House, counties, municipalities all drawing their own maps, is that in some cases small pockets of geography with minimal population become isolated within their own election district because districts slightly deviate.

“For example, several of the proposed changes eliminate election districts the size of a single census block or make cosmetic changes where Senate chose one side of the highway and the House chose the opposite side of the highway,” Sen. Sokola said. “Without these changes, the state would have dozens of small election districts with minimal populations creating confusion.”

Senate Majority Leader Bryan Townsend, D-Newark/Bear, thanked the Department of Elections, its commissioner and legislative staff for the hard work that went into not only the original redistricting bill but HB 335.

“I know there is always a cleanup bill following redistricting. But to try to do it as quickly as they have been able to do it, I think we’re all aware of the delay of the U.S. Census and how that put a pretty tight timetable on the original bill,” said Sen. Townsend. “It makes sure that the maps are such that it makes more sense to people. It is extremely important that these maps make sense to people.”

Sen. Minority Whip Bryan Pettyjohn, R-Georgetown, agreed, noting that there were only two pages of changes for the House, but about 47 pages of Senate changes.

“So, a lot of work went into at least the Senate side as well in making these maps work right so that they make sense to the voters. Now, it’s up to the Department of Elections to actually get the polling places done,” Sen. Pettyjohn said.

“There were instances before where voters had to go from let’s say a Milton area over to Del Tech in Georgetown to vote. I know that is one of the things we were trying to work out with the Department of Elections, to make sure that polling places were closer to where people live.”

Maps of House districts reflecting revisions with post-cleanup changes are available on the General Assembly homepage.

Members and subscribers make this story possible.
You can help support non-partisan, community journalism.