House and Senate Republicans have joined their counterparts in other states by introducing legislation aimed at dealing with voter fraud while stiffening identification requirements.
According to a release, the bills would:
- Establish the Registered Voter List Improvement Task Force.
- Review best practices to improve the verification of absentee ballot signatures.
- Increase penalties for voter fraud.
- Reform voter identification standards.
- Reform the standards for absentee ballot requests.
“The registered voter list is often used by state lawmakers and many others to perform constituent mailings and conduct other public outreach,” said the prime sponsor of the bill, State Sen. Dave Wilson (R-Lincoln). “Any time I’ve done a mailing using it, I always get back a lot of undelivered pieces.”
“There is no excuse for not investigating this issue further to learn if there are opportunities for improvement,” Wilson said.
State election officials say that verification procedures virtually eliminate the chances of voter fraud from residence changes.
“In keeping with our efforts to ensure Delaware elections are safe and secure, I am sponsoring this resolution that requires the Department of Elections to review our practices on verifying absentee ballot signatures,” said prime sponsor, State Rep. Mike Ramone (R-Pike Creek South). “Given the nature of voting by absentee, it’s too easy for fraud to occur. If we’re doing everything right, then we have nothing to worry about, but I suspect there is room for improvement that will give voters the confidence they need in knowing that our absentee voting system is as secure as possible.”
Another proposed piece of legislation specifies that citizens wishing to vote at a polling place identify themselves by presenting a valid polling place card or one of 13 different types of photo ID.
Any voter who is unable to provide an acceptable form of identification, or whose eligibility to vote cannot otherwise be determined, may cast a provisional ballot without any further action needed on the part of the voter. The ballot will be counted after the Department of Elections matches information provided by the voter against their registration records.
State Rep. Rich Collins (R-Millsboro), the prime sponsor of the measure, says he believes citizens will be supportive of his bill. “Citizens understand that they have to show ID to do almost anything in the real world. One of the biggest responsibilities we
“The way the law is currently written, I do not think the penalties reflect the seriousness of the crime,” said State Rep. Jesse Vanderwende (R-Bridgeville, Greenwood), the House prime sponsor of the bill voter fraud bill. “Illegal voting undermines the public’s confidence in the voting system and that is something we cannot stand for.”
The proposal sponsored by most House and Senate Republicans would allow a broad scope of acceptable photo IDs, including not just those issued by federal, state, county, and municipal governments, but also those issued by public and private schools, colleges or universities, and Delaware employers.
The bill also continues to allow the Department of Elections’ polling place cards to be used as valid identification at the polls. These cards are periodically mailed to registered voters and can also be requested from the agency, free-of-charge.
Any voter who is unable to provide an acceptable form of identification, or whose eligibility to vote could not otherwise be determined, may still cast a provisional ballot. These ballots, which already exist under Delaware law, would be processed by the Department of Elections prior to the election results being certified. The agency would determine the veracity of the ballot by matching basic information provided by the voter against their own records. Unlike the laws in “strict voter ID” states, no further action would be required on the part of the citizen after they leave the polling place.
The legislation will be circulated for a week starting later today, giving House and Senate Democrats an opportunity to sign onto the legislation as prime sponsors or co- sponsors.
GOP legislators in other states have introduced and in some cases passed stiffer requirements that in the case of Georgia banned giving food to voters standing in line at the polls.
Critics claim the measures are aimed at discouraging turnout by minority voters.
Not listed as a co-sponsor of the measures was State Sen. Ernie Lopez, R-Lewes, the only Hispanic member of the otherwise all-Anglo GOP House and Senate delegation.
State House Minority Leader Danny Short (R-Seaford) said given the emotionally charged nature of any proposal dealing with election law, he is anticipating some people may react to the proposals without actually considering them. “We understand that we’re going to hear some criticism about these bills,” he said. “What I’m asking everyone to do is to cut through the rhetoric, read the bills, make up your own mind, and let us know what you think.”
Democrats have claimed such measures are aimed at voter suppression. They also point to the rarity of voter fraud.
Democrats have also proposed making mail-in voting permanent.
Meanwhile, former President Donald Trump continues to promote baseless charges of widespread election fraud that has been dubbed “the big lie.”