Delaware Court Strikes Down New No-Excuse Mail-In Voting System

  • by:
  • Source: Wayne Dupree
  • 03/04/2023

President Joe Biden’s home state of Delaware’s Court of Chancery invalidated the new no-excuse mail-in voting method on Wednesday.

Democratic Gov. John Carney approved legislation in July allowing voters without a valid reason to obtain mail-in votes in advance of an election. GOP lawmakers had fiercely opposed SB 320, according to Delaware Public Media.

According to WDEL-AM in Wilmington, the measure was introduced after the clause that enabled mail-in ballots in 2020 due to the COVID-19 epidemic ended in 2021.

Vice Chancellor Nathan Cook, however, determined that the act was against the state Constitution in an injunction that was issued on Wednesday.

Even several Democratic lawmakers, according to WDEL, had doubts about its legality. Democratic state House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf put a halt to the discussion when the issue came up in June, according to the source.

“Neither I nor you or anybody else in this room knows whether it is or is not constitutional. The WDEL report cites Schwartzkopf as saying, “The only way to get this thing done is to hear this bill, go it, and allow a challenge go to the courts, and let them determine it.

Once five plaintiffs filed a complaint in the Court of Chancery, the legislation did wind up in the courts. Republican candidate for attorney general Julianne Murray and Republican Party Chairwoman Jane Bradey defended the plaintiffs.

Cook determined that the Democrats’ proposal was unconstitutional based on Delaware’s Constitution’s Article V, Section 4A, which states the conditions under which a person may cast a mail-in ballot.

The General Assembly shall enact general laws ensuring that any qualified voter of this State who is duly registered and unable to cast their vote at any general election at the regular polling place of the election district in which they are registered, either due to being in the public service of the United States or of this State, or because their spouse or dependents when residing with or accompanying them because of the nature of h

Cook remarked in his ruling that the state Supreme Court and the Chancery Court have “constantly declared that such situations are exhaustive” based on precedent.

Therefore, he concluded, “the Vote-by-Mail Statute’s effort to extend absentee voting to Delawareans who do not correspond with any of Section 4A’s classifications must be denied. As a trial judge, I am bound by precedent to come to this conclusion.”

On the same day that Carney signed SB 320 into law, he simultaneously signed a measure allowing same-day voter registration, which was the subject of the Chancery Court complaint. Delaware became the 22nd state to permit same-day voter registration as a result.

Cook made a decision in favor of the Democrats on the issue. He claimed that same-day registration was not unlawful because of a 1925 constitutional change that got rid of the requirement that voter registration “be completed” by a specific time.

The court’s rulings have a direct impact on Delaware’s midterm elections in November. Mail ballots will be sent to voters by the start of October, according to the state’s Department of Elections.

No-excuse mail-in voting is no longer allowed, but individuals who are unable to cast their ballots in person can still request absentee ballots, according to WDEL.

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