Friday, January 14, 2011

An Independent Voice on the Levy Court Redistricting Commission

Every 10 years, the US Constitution requires the Federal Government to conduct a census, and then various federal, state, and local laws dictate the manner in which the various district boundaries for our elected officials are drawn. The Kent County government, the Levy Court, draws its borders following the recommendations of a “Redistricting Commission”. The Redistricting Commission, its composition, and its mandate are found in Chapter 41, Title 9 of the Delaware Code, Subchapter I. The gist of it is that there are seven members, one to correspond to each of the Levy Court commissioners, and no more than four of them may be from the same political party.

In the two-party system that dominates the US, these members have historically been Democrats or Republicans, with the party holding more seats on the Levy Court claiming the 4-3 majority.

In the modern political era, the fastest growing political affiliation is “independent”. More and more American voters are choosing not to identify with either of the major political parties. In recognition of this trend, the Kent County Libertarian Party is urging the commissioners of the Levy Court to select at least one member for the Redistricting Commission who is not affiliated with either the Democrats or the Republicans.

This is not simply a matter of fairness. Although I have no reason to believe that the commissioners of the Levy Court would consider selecting such people, it is not uncommon for many of these redistricting processes to degenerate into “gerrymandering”, where both of the political parties in power trade “safe districts” for “safe districts”.

This ensures that candidates from both parties will face easy reelections, will have little incentive to consider alternative viewpoints, and little fear of being driven from office for ethics violations or outright crimes. While this may not be a concern in Kent County, the presence of a neutral member, with no allegiance to either party, can ensure a transparent and honest process that can serve as an example to communities less inclined to follow the better angels of their nature.

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