Senator Dave Sokola has introduced a bill that seems to be way too late for the purpose the bill is trying to achieve, at least for this coming decade. Senate Bill 27 is a Constitutional Amendment concerning the decennial redistricting process. I will get into what the bill proposes to do in a second, but first let’s talk about why it’s too late.
The 2020 Census has been concluded and soon, the US Census Bureau will deliver to Delaware the results. And later this year, the Speaker and the Senate President Pro Tempore will begin to draw new boundary lines for the Representative and Senate Districts, so that they can be ready for the 2022 elections.
But this Senate Bill 27 is a Constitutional Amendment. Which means it has to pass by a two thirds majority in both chambers of the General Assembly two sessions in a row. That means the earliest that this Amendment can officially become law, and the Constitutional language governing redistricting can officially be amended is January 2023. After the redistricting for the 2022 elections has already taken place, and after the 2022 election has long been decided.
So realistically, this Amendment is all about the 2030 Census and the redistricting that follows that, unless we are going to do some Republican Texas shit and draw new lines in the mid 2020’s.
That being said, what does this Amendment do? It does not establish an Independent Redistricting Commission that was the focus of redistricting reform over the past 20 years in this state.
|Senate Bill 27 Sponsors||Yes Votes||No Votes|
|Sokola, Ennis, Paradee, Pinkney, Townsend|
|Current Status: Senate Executive 1/12/21|
So what does it do? Well, it deletes language in Article II, Section 2 and 2A that is unconstitutional and outdated. For example, those provisions in the Constitution actually draw outdated and obsolete boundary lines of the RDs themselves.
The Representative Districts in New Castle County are and shall be as follows:
Number One. All that portion of the City of Wilmington included within the Second and Fourth Wards, and those parts of the Sixth and Eighth Wards, respectively, lying south of and bounded by the central line of Eighth street.
Number Two. All that portion of the said city included within the Ninth Ward, and those parts of the Sixth and Eighth Wards, respectively, lying north of and bounded by the central line of Eighth street.
Number Three. All that portion of the said city included within the Seventh Ward, and that part of the Fifth Ward lying north of and bounded by a straight line including the central line of Eighth street.
Number Four. All that portion of the said city included within the First and Third Wards, and that part of the Fifth Ward lying south of and bounded by the central line of Eighth street, east of and bounded by the central line of Adams street, and west of and bounded by the central line of Market street.
Number Five. All that portion of the said city included within the Tenth, Eleventh and Twelfth Wards, and that part of the Fifth Ward lying south of and bounded by a straight line including the central line of Eighth street, west of and bounded by the central line of Adams street, and bounded on the west by the westerly boundary line of the said city.
Number Six. Brandywine Hundred.
Number Seven. Christiana Hundred.
So all that language will be repealed and replaced with the following:
The General Assembly must determine the boundaries of legislative districts using the following criteria: contiguous territory; nearly equal in population; bounded by major roads, streams, or other natural boundaries; and do not unduly favor any person or political party.
This Act also repeals the obsolete process in the Constitution that has the Governor and chairs of 2 political parties conduct the redistricting. Current law does not provide a specific process by which the General Assembly redistricts legislative districts, so this Act provides the General Assembly with the power to enact general laws establishing rules and procedures for redistricting.