After court ruling, Dems take aim at GOP efforts to fight no-excuse absentee voting

59
Advertisement

Democrats running for office this year had harsh words for Republicans who successfully went to court to block legislation and have held up a constitutional amendment that would allow early and no excuse absentee voting.

Last week, a Superior Court judge ruled that legislation allowing for no-excuse absentee voting violated the Delaware Constitution. Delaware Republicans have led to efforts to fight what they see as an end-around action. The state Supreme Court previously ruled against legislation broadening voting options, citing the Constitution.

Sussex County State Sen. Gerald Hocker, who was a party in the suit that led to the Superior Court judge’s ruling, issued the following statement late Sunday night:

“No one wants to limit access to the ballot box. It’s a lazy argument and one voters should, and will, reject. Absentee voting has been a part of the Delaware Constitution for a long time, and the system has worked perfectly fine. My objection to HB38 in 2019, which established the early voting process, was that it was unconstitutional. The Delaware Superior Court agreed. Every legislator takes an oath to uphold the Constitution. Elected Democrats have attempted to disregard that oath far too many times, and I’m happy our judicial system has held them in check.”

In response to the Delaware decision, Gubernatorial candidates Mattew Meyer, Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long, and U.S. Senate candidate and current U.S. Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester condemned what they see as an extremist approach by the state GOP.

Advertisement

“Yesterday’s Delaware Superior Court decision is another reminder of where we are at this moment — no matter where you live in our country, Republican extremists will stop at nothing to attack our access to the ballot box,” Blunt Rochester stated.

Hall-Long said, “states, including our neighbors in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New Jersey, already allow no excuse for absentee voting. The court’s decision, and other recent decisions, would restrict all Delawareans’ right to vote to a degree seen in only three other states. We must reverse this trend, expand voting rights, and reject attempts to strangle our democratic process.”

House Democratic leadership said the court decision “reinforces the urgency of our past efforts to amend Delaware’s Constitution for voting and underscores the importance of continuing to advocate for voter protections at the federal level.”

State Rep. Paul Baumbach noted in a social media post that the stance of Republicans changed over the years. According to the Newark Democrat, legislation allowing no-excuse absentee voting as part of the Constitution was previously approved by 90% of House members, with Republicans later pivoting.

“Thirteen of my colleagues, every one a colleague across the aisle, flipped their vote. Not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven, not eight, not nine, not ten, not 11, not 12, but 13 of my colleagues flipped their votes to deny Delaware voters the ability to access no-excuse absentee voting,” Baumbach wrote.

The switch by Republicans halted the difficult process of amending the Constitution, which requires a two-thirds vote in two consecutive legislative sessions. Unlike many states, Delaware does not allow direct votes on amending the Constitution, a practice that either party has rarely questioned.

This year, Delaware will return to allowing absentee voting on election day when the individual is disabled or out of state. Signing a declaration stating that the individual will be out of state allows a ballot to be cast early, with enforcement being virtually impossible. Mail-in absentee voting has always been available for those in the military

Interestingly enough, according to a Cape Gazette story, the new leader of the state GOP said last year the party will push for early voting in some legislative races. At the same time, Julieanne Murray said her unsuccessful bid for Attorney General was affected by early voting and no-excuse absentee ballots.

Democrats, who have controlled the General Assembly and the governor’s office for decades, did not champion expanded voting options early on when the practice was popular with both parties.

Many Republican legislators, who in other states favored and even helped pass early and mail-in voting, changed course when then-President Trump claimed in 2020 without evidence that the option would lead to fraud and rigged elections.

Advertisement
Advertisement