House, Senate Democrats Delayed in Redrawing Maps

When most Delawareans are carving pumpkins, Delaware's Democratic lawmakers and their staffs will be carving up the state into new representative and senatorial districts.

House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf and Senate President Pro Tempore David Sokola announced late last week that the Delaware General Assembly will hold a series of special session days this fall to address the once-a-decade realignment of legislative district boundaries.

Every 10 years, the General Assembly is tasked with redrawing all 62 legislative districts based on the latest federal census data. This legally mandated process ensures that the districts reflect the most recent population shifts and that all citizens receive equal representation in government.

Traditionally, the detailed demographic information needed to recraft legislative districts is available in the early spring. However, preliminary reports had indicated that Delaware might not receive its 2020 U.S. Census data until late summer -- well after the House and Senate have recessed.

Those suspicions were confirmed by the U.S. Census Bureau yesterday (2/12) when it announced that it would issue redistricting data to all states by September 30, 2021 -- six months later than initially expected. The bureau blamed the late delivery, in part, on "COVID-19-related delays."

In Delaware, House and Senate Democrats, which have large majorities in both chambers, will have unilateral control over the redistricting process. While they will need to observe certain state and federal guidelines, legislative Democrats will have the freedom to redraw district lines as they wish. The maps they produce will be submitted for public review and possibly amended. Ultimately, the final maps will be approved by a simple-majority vote in the General Assembly and signed into law by the governor.