Tonight, after calls from a grassroots coalition led by Common Cause Delaware, state legislators will hold the first of a series of public redistricting hearings virtually on Zoom at 6:00 p.m. Lawmakers will provide an overview of the redistricting process and the state’s population data gathered from the 2020 Census. The public will be invited to provide testimony, during which Common Cause Delaware will advocate for fair maps that prioritize the interests of voters ahead the interests of any one political party or elected official.
To sign up to attend tonight’s public hearing, click here.
Below is the prepared testimony of Common Cause Delaware Director Claire Snyder-Hall.
“Good evening. My name is Claire Snyder-Hall and I am Director of Common Cause Delaware. Common Cause is a national, grassroots organization with over a million and a half members that focuses on strengthening democracy.
It is exciting to be here tonight at the first of the redistricting hearings for 2021. The redistricting work you are doing in the General Assembly is so important because the way district lines are drawn will directly affect every Delawarean for the next ten years. When district maps keep communities intact, it allows them to have a dedicated voice in Dover, someone who will articulate community needs. But when communities are carved into parts and spread across multiple districts, voters’ voices on the issues of the day are weakened.
That is why we are so gratified that the General Assembly has pledged to use the preservation of communities of interest as one of its criteria for redistricting.
We are also proud that Delaware leads the country, along with 15 other states, in prohibiting legislators from rigging the maps to maximize the chances that incumbents will get reelected.
That is to say, the Delaware Code reads, and I quote, ‘In determining the boundaries of the several representative and senatorial districts within the State, the General Assembly shall use the following criteria. Each district shall, insofar as is possible … Not be created so as to unduly favor any person or political party.’ That means that in Delaware our elected officials are not allowed to draw districts to advantage incumbents or to advance the interests of the majority party.
Thus, on this count, the Delaware Code goes even further than the federal Voting Rights Act toward ensuring fair maps, by recognizing incumbent protection as a problem and taking steps to address it.
In a democracy, we the people choose our elected representatives, not the other way around. Thankfully, our state law is designed to ensure our maps are drawn to serve voters’ interests, not partisan or incumbent interests.
We at Common Cause thank you for the efforts you all have made to include the public in the redistricting process, including the new website and the public hearings. We look forward to the announcement of future hearings and examining the maps. Thank you very much.”