Vote by mail bill passes House, Senate

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Voting by mail is on its way to becoming law in Delaware.

The measure passed both the Delaware House and Senate. The House vote for HB 346 was along party lines. In the Senate, some Republicans crossing party lines to approve the measure by an 18-3 vote. Gov. John Carney is expected to sign the bill.

A number of Republican efforts to amend the bill sponsored by House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst, (D-Bear, Delaware City).

State Rep. Bryan Shupe, R-Milford has suggested that simply adding coronavirus as the reason for needing an absentee ballot would save taxpayers more than $800,000 over mailing ballots to all registered voters. In this election cycle, money for the vote mail program will come from the $1 billion received by the state from the federal CARES Act.

Shupe also cited issues with mailing, noting that he received voter registration cards addressed to a previous occupant of the house where he resided.

Democrats have argued the mail-in ballots would increase voter participation, especially with the threat of coronavirus extending into future elections.

Absentee ballots must be requested by voters

“My position on this issue has been simple and consistent. We should make it easier – not harder – for all Delawareans to exercise their fundamental right to vote and participate in our democratic process,” Gov. Carney stated. “That’s especially important this year as our state and country continue to grapple with the impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic. This legislation will make sure that Delawareans can fairly and securely cast their ballots and have their voices heard.”

The Trump administration has fiercely opposed voting by mail, claiming the practice would lead to voter fraud. Vote by mail is already in place in a number of Red and Blue states.

Democrats hold a registration advantage in Delaware over Republicans and hold all statewide offices. Until fairly recently did not seem to be in any hurry to enact vote by mail legislation.

However, social distancing, fewer precincts and a lack of poll workers have led to long lines around voting places around the country. Delaware saw the phenomenon during a referendum vote in the Christiana School District in northern Delaware.

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