Making Democracy Work

Current Issues

Making Democracy Work - Independent Redistricting

A redistricting commission is a body, other than the usual state legislative bodies, designated to draw electoral district lines. The intent is to avoid gerrymandering by specifying a nonpartisan or bipartisan body to comprise the commission drawing district lines.

How to Steal an Election (Gerrymandering Diagram)
Graphic by Steven Nass via Wikimedia Commons

Arizona, California, Idaho, New Jersey and Washington are among U.S. states who used some form of non-partisan or bipartisan redistricting commission following the 2010 census.

Supreme Court Cases

In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission that redistricting commissions such as Arizona's, whose redistricting commission process is independent of the state legislature, were constitutional.

In June of 2016 the Court agreed to take up the partisan gerrymandering case from Wisconsin, Gill v. Whitford. It will be heard next term, which begins in October and runs through June 2018. "This is a critical step forward in the battle against excessive partisan gerrymandering," said League of Women Voters president Chris Carson.

The League's Position

The national League of Women Voters has this position on redistricting:

"The League of Women Voters believes responsibility for redistricting preferably should be vested in an independent special commission, with membership that reflects the diversity of the unit of government, including citizens at large, representatives of public interest groups, and members of minority groups."

The full LWVUS position goes on to recommend additional redistricting process guidelines and standards.

Public opinion polling has shown high public support for taking the redistricting process out of the hands of partisan legislatures. In early 2012, the League of Women Voters Education Fund published Shining a Light: Redistricting Lessons Learned, which lays out key League priorities related to redistricting reform. The publication has been shared widely with Leagues and partners nationwide.

Redistricting in Delaware

Delaware redraws its voting districts after the US Census is taken every 10 years. A bill currently before the Delaware Legislature, Senate Bill 27 sponsored by Senator Bryan Townsend, proposes to create an Independent Redistricting Commission for the State of Delaware. The provisions of the bill include a very detailed selection process designed to minimize the influence of partisan politics.

Senate Bill 27 was passed in the Delaware Senate on April 5, 2017, but has languished in the House Administration Committee since then. House leadership is not convinced that an independent commission is necessary in Delaware.

What You Can Do

If you believe independent redistricting is needed in Delaware, contact the House leaders during the session break and urge them to release SB 27 from committee in January 2018:

Speaker of the House - Peter Schwartzkopf
House Majority Leader - Valerie Longhurst
House Majority Whip - John Viola
House Minority Leader - Daniel Short
House Minority Whip - Deborah Hudson
Explain your concerns to the legislators...
  • Why is redistricting a priority to you?
  • What is your primary concern about gerrymandered districts?
  • How have you seen gerrymandered districts influence democracy?

Human Trafficking

Human Trafficking (exploitation of individuals for sexual or forced labor purposes) is a worldwide problem, and Delaware is not immune. The 147th session of the state legislature passed SB 270 in June of 2014 to help fight human trafficking in Delaware.

Stop Human Trafficking League of Women Voters of New Castle County (LWVNCC), along with AAUW, Zoe Ministries, Prison Ministries of Delaware and other groups, has sponsored a series of Human Trafficking Forums between June 2016 and May 2017, in Newark, Middletown, and Wilmington, to raise public awareness.

Some forum facts:

  • Delaware is the pipeline through which the trafficking passes in this part of the country - Deputy Attorney General Abigail Layton.
  • Over 100 cases have passed through the human trafficking program in the Court of Common Pleas in the last four years - Court Commissioner Mary McDonough.
  • It happens in every single county - Yolanda Schlabach of Zoe Ministries.
  • The Human Trafficking Coordinating Council established by the legislature in 2014 still has no officially allocated funding

These 2010 Fact Sheets from Polaris Project address common myths and misconceptions about human trafficking in the US.

Message from Emily White, past LWVNCC President, in January 2017:

"Human exploitation, known as Human Trafficking, is a multi-million/billion dollar business, at the expense of human beings, from young children and teenagers, to adults, both male and female. This is a world-wide commerce, using human beings as a commodity, though you won't find the profits listed on the news as a factor in our National GDP. Nationally, over 300,000 children and teenagers are bought and sold each year. Those statistics refer only to the people who are rescued. Human trafficking is alive and rampant here in the State of Delaware.

There are vigilant activists in Delaware; League Board member, Fay Whittle, who chairs the Social Justice Committee in New Castle County, arranges Speaker Forums to address the issue. Yolanda Schlabach, from Sussex County, is the owner and CEO of the non-profit, ZOE Ministries, arranged a Speaker Forum in November at Dover Downs; Over 638 people were in attendance, with a waiting list. Ms. Schlabach travels throughout the State, speaking at schools and for groups at community centers.

Emily White Delaware State Legislators have been addressing strategies for combating Human Trafficking in this state. Legislation was enacted in Delaware in 2014. Governor Markell has scheduled a press conference for January 10, 2017, 2:30 P.M., declaring through Proclamation, that January will be Human Trafficking Month in the State of Delaware."

Delaware Affordable Care Act

The website for Delaware's health insurance marketplace ChooseHealthDE.com provides Delawareans information they may need to know before enrollment, including answers to frequently asked questions and how to connect with the state's marketplace guides.

Healthcare.gov has a resource available that provides geographically specific premium and rate information after answering a few basic questions. It should be noted that this calculator provides information on rates prior to any premium subsidies or cost sharing that an individual might receive. To calculate subsidies, consumers may use the Kaiser Family Foundations Subsidy Calculator. Both of these calculators provide Delaware-specific information and can be accessed directly as well as via ChooseHealthDE.com.

For those interested in additional detail on the plans and rates, Delaware's Department of Insurance has made many resources available on its website, including charts of the medical and dental plan rates for all ages by plan, and the list of Agents and Brokers (Producers) certified to discuss Marketplace products.