Democrats suspect post-election rhetoric contributed to failure to pass no-excuses absentee voting

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Democrats are blaming political rhetoric stemming from the recent election for the failure to pass a constitutional amendment that would allow for no-excuses absentee voting.

Republicans claimed the measure would be used as a tactic by Democrats to bolster their majority status.

Several House members who previously voted for what Democrats said was an identical bill pulled their support.

House Bill 75, sponsored by Rep. David Bentz, D-Christiana, is the second leg of a constitutional amendment that would eliminate from the Delaware Constitution the limitations as to when an individual may vote by absentee ballot. The measure would allow the General Assembly will enact general laws providing the circumstances, rules, and procedures for absentee voting.

Last session’s version of the bill – constitutional amendments must pass in identical form in two consecutive General Assemblies – passed with bipartisan support in both chambers.

However, HB 75 failed on a party-line vote, as constitutional amendments require 28 votes in the House, and there are 26 Democratic members.

“We passed the first leg of this amendment in 2019 fairly emphatically. As I said on the floor today, absolutely nothing has changed with regards to the security or efficacy of absentee voting since 2019. The only thing that has changed is the political rhetoric around it, which is built on a concerted disinformation campaign,” Bentz stated.

Bentz continued, “Delawareans should be able to exercise their right to vote with ease, not just in person, but through a safe and secure absentee process. Unfortunately, those who switched their votes from 2019 were largely silent on the floor, giving no reasons why. I hope they explain whether the political rhetoric has changed their minds or if some other concern has surfaced.”

House Minority Leader Danny Short issued a statement that claimed members had re-examined the bill and found problems.

Short blamed House Minority Leader Valerie Longhurst for not addressing their issues.

Further down in Short’s statement was the following passage that expressed concern about the measure leading to mail-in voting.

“… I believe they intend to turn no-excuse absentee voting into a ‘vote by mail’ system – a scheme that will benefit Democrats. Any doubt about the partisan nature of this issue was erased after today’s vote. There were three Republican bills on Thursday’s House Agenda, one of which, ironically, was to make it easier for people to vote in municipal elections. Rep. Longhurst refused to allow any of those bills to be voted on in the act of retribution for the Republican vote on HB 75. We may not have seen the last of this bill, but House Democrats have given us even less reason to trust their good intentions on this issue,” Short stated.

Since the November election, former President Donald Trump has claimed without evidence that the election was stolen due to mail-in voter fraud.

Republican legislators here and elsewhere have been under pressure from Trump supporters not to endorse changes such as mail-in ballots or no-excuses absentee voting. Mail-in voting is widespread in “red states” that typically vote Republican and “blue states” with Democratic majorities.

Delaware allowed a form of mail-in voting last year due to the pandemic.

Democrats have claimed the bills proposed by Republicans address problems that do not exist.
Click here for an earlier story on the Republican bills.
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