Hurricane Irene was not the only thing to shake up Delaware this year. The 2010 Census has sent County and City Councils scrambling to create redistricting plans that reflect the changes in their districts’ populations and comply with regulations. According to Antonio Prado, Staff Writer for the Dover Post, the Dover Election Board sent a redistricting plan to the Dover City Council that complies with a 1988 consent decree that requires “a minority district with at least 65 percent black voters 18 years old and older.” This consent decree settled a lawsuit between the NAACP and the city of Dover, in which “the NAACP successfully argued that Dover’s at-large system of council elections was detrimental to the equal representation of the city’s minority voters.”
The Dover planners took into account natural boundaries, commonality of interests, subdivisions, roads, railroads, and census blocks when they redrew the four equal districts of 9,012 people. Dover City Geographic Information Systems Manager Mark Nowak noted that the planners had to move territory from District 1 to District 3 in order to not dilute the minority district. The redistricting plan results in a seventy percent black majority in District 4.
According to Prado, Cecil C. Wilson, the lead plaintiff in the civil action case against the city of Dover and former president of the Central Delaware NAACP, said, “We don’t want to see gerrymandering.” However, City Clerk Traci McDowell said that these new districts were somewhat gerrymandered because of the consent decree.