|State Boundaries||Drawn by legislature|
Census-related Redistricting Timeline Delays
State LegislativeAlert: High
|Final Map Deadline||2021-06-30|
|Actions Proposed in State||Special session|
In Delaware, state legislative districts are drawn by the Legislature by ordinary statute, and are subject to the Governor's veto. The Legislature can override vetoes with a three-fifths majority in each chamber. Delaware has only one at-large congressional district, so there is no congressional redistricting.
In addition to the federal requirements of one person, one vote and the Voting Rights Act, Delaware’s state constitution (Art II § 2A) requires that state legislative districts be contiguous and not “unduly favor any person or political party.”
In 2010, Delaware passed HB 384, ending the practice of prison gerrymandering and reassigning currently incarcerated populations to their last-known place of residence for the purpose of redistricting.
In the 2011 redistricting cycle, the state Senate and House both committed to an open and transparent redistricting process. The Senate unanimously passed a bill to subject all redistricting information to the Freedom of Information Act, and the House opened a four-week public comment period in April 2011 to solicit written suggestions, requests, and plans by email and mail. After the Legislature released draft maps, it held two public hearings in May and June for feedback. A similar public input process is likely in 2021.
Both chambers of the Legislature and the Governorship are currently controlled by Democrats. Single-party control over redistricting increases the risk of partisan gerrymandering.
In recent years, two different redistricting bills have been proposed:
- Senate Bill 27, sponsored by Sen. Townsend (D) in 2017, would have created an Independent Redistricting Commission consisting of nine members, three of each major political party and three unaffiliated with either. Additionally, three of the members must be current or former attorneys or judges. SB27 passed the Senate with a 12-7 vote, but the House took no further action on the bill.
- House Bill 309, sponsored by Rep. Smith (R) in 2020, would have created a new approach to redistricting that would “leverag[e] partisan self-interest to create a protocol that results in an equitable outcome.” The process would involve two partisan caucuses that freeze and redraw districts until all are defined. The bill was left pending in the House Administration Committee when the Legislature adjourned on June 30, 2020.
In 2021, participate in the Legislature’s public input process.
- Obtain Delaware redistricting data from OpenPrecincts.
- Start to plan out what defines your community – whether it’s a shared economic interest, school districts, or other social or other cultural, historical, or economic interests – and how that can be represented on a map. This will come in handy once the Legislature starts collecting feedback.
- Use software tools such as Dave's Redistricting App and Districtr to draw district maps showing either (a) what a fair map would look like, or (b) where the community you believe should be better represented is located.
If you find fault with the final maps submitted by the Legislature, you have the right to appeal to the Delaware Superior Court. Any Delaware voter has 30 days to file an application to “compel correction of any error in redistricting and reapportioning” (Art. II § 2A).
Read the Common Cause Activist Handbook on Redistricting Reform to learn about what reforms have been successful in the past, and what steps to take to enact reform in the future. While the deadline to change the constitutional process for this redistricting cycle has passed, it is never too early to plan and organize for reforms.