We took a break this week from stocking up on our Halloween candy to intimately study the drafts of new district maps set forth by Delaware’s State Senate and House of Representatives. As it turns out, the chill in the air isn’t simply the fall weather but the icy realization that several of the draft districts actually divide voter communities of interest in favor of preserving incumbents’ addresses within the proposed boundaries.
According to the Delaware Code (Title 29, Chapter 8, Subchapter 1, § 804), criteria for these voting district maps includes that districts “not [be] created so as to unduly favor any person or political party”. That’s the unabashed antithesis of using incumbent addresses as a starting point for district lines.
Keeping communities of interest together is key to ensuring that their unique needs and perspectives are represented in the legislature. Dividing communities of interest may dilute their political power. Unfortunately, the General Assembly has decided, instead, that their own interests are more important than ensuring communities have a voice in Dover.
According to Delaware Public Media, the mayor of Slaughter Beach, Kathy Lock, says her town will feel the full effects of sea level rise in the First State, and the town has been recently looking at securing funds for infrastructure projects to combat those effects. “I anticipate that our effectiveness in securing these funds from other municipalities and from Sussex County will require the assistance and a strong voice from our state representatives,” Lock says. By potentially destabilizing their community voice by moving their district from 18th to 16th, there may be uncertainty in their collective power being heard in their new district.
Delawareans have been given only until this coming Monday, October 25, at 9 a.m. to study and comment on how the proposed maps impact their communities. If you think that may not be enough time to thoroughly examine the butterfly effect, you’re not alone.
Let’s remind our legislators that voters should pick their representatives--not the other way around. Incumbents should never be a consideration that outweighs preserving the voting strength of a community of interest. We’re not here to be TRICKed, but to be TREATed like every community deserves to retain its integrity. Communities must remain as undivided as possible in order to collectively pool their political power without undue obstacles. We the people, not we the legislators.