Jennings to appeal Superior Court voting decision as Republicans propose constitutional amendment


The Delaware Department of Justice will appeal a Superior Court judge’s ruling ending much of the state’s absentee voting and will back legislative efforts to apass constitutional amendment expanding voting access, Attorney General Kathy Jennings announced.

In the meantime, State Sen. Gerald Hocker – who led the lawsuit to overturn early voting legislation that if upheld ends absentee voting for the disabled and others – said the party will sponsor a Constitutional Amendment to allow for widened absentee voting.

According to Jennings, a Superior Court judge issued a surprise ruling both denying the state’s motion to dismiss a partisan challenge to Delaware’s early voting law, and issuing an unsolicited judgment striking down early voting and the state’s 14-year-old permanent absentee voter law. The permanent absentee law previously passed the General Assembly unanimously, with the support of then-Rep. Hocker, the plaintiff in the Superior Court case.

“We respectfully but fundamentally disagree with this ruling and will appeal,” Jennings stated. “No idea that requires silence to survive has any place in a democracy. But that is precisely the fight we’re having: in statehouses and courthouses alike, extremists are trying to empower losing ideas by eroding the right to vote itself.”

Jennings also urged lawmakers to support efforts to expand voting rights through constitutional amendments, beginning with Senate Bill 3, sponsored by Sen. Darius Brown, D-Wilmington.


According to Jennings, in the last election, 56,000 Delawareans used early voting and roughly 21,000 — including veterans, the disabled, and caregivers — used permanent absentee ballots. If the Superior Court ruling withstands appeal, Friday’s ruling would impact all of the avove in the November general election. The ruling does not impact the April 2 presidential primary.

“Regardless of your party, where you live, or how you vote, you deserve every chance to exercise that right. Whether you voted for me or not, this is your right and I will never stop fighting for it.”

Following harsh criticism from Democrats in the House and Senate, Republican legislators announced plans to introduce a state constitutional amendment that would allow expanded voting, while defending the lawsuit as stopping Democrats from bypassing the Constitution.

An amendment would not become effective until the 2026 election cycle since it takes a two-thirds vote in two consecutive legislative sessions to change the Constitution. Republicans earlier had reversed course during a past attempt to amend the state Constitution

“We hope all legislators on both sides of the aisle will join us in support of this measure and enacting early voting that is legally sound and compliant with our state constitution,” a release from GOP legislators stated.

Earlier in the day, the American Civil Liberties Union joined General Assembly Democrats in condemning efforts to end early voting in the 2024 election.

“We urge the State to appeal this decision and request a stay of its enforcement. Overseas and uniformed voters may already request ballots for the upcoming presidential primary election, and plans for early in-person voting have been announced. It is in the best interest of voters to ensure the status quo and that voters may continue to access these options until the state’s highest court has had the ability to weigh in,” stated Andrew Bernstein, ACLU of Delaware Cozen Voting Rights Fellow.

Bernstein continued, “This attack on voting rights is part of a larger national effort to make it harder to participate in our democracy. Here in Delaware, we already saw the devastating impact of this larger national effort when another lawsuit successfully challenged no-excuse vote by mail and same-day registration.”

Also, Senate Democratic leadership called out two Delaware House members for reversing a past vote on a Constitutional Amendment.

“Indeed, the loss of voting rights in Delaware is not the fault of our judiciary. Although these barriers are re-emerging after rulings by Delaware judges, the blame does not lie with them. This is not a partisan issue within a judiciary tasked with interpreting constitutional language. It’s a partisan issue in the General Assembly where Republicans have refused to support changes to modernize the Delaware Constitution that would enhance the ability of Delawareans to participate in elections.

The statement continued, “It would be easy to focus on former Delaware GOP Chair Jane Brady and Senate Minority Leader Gerald Hocker—the attorney and plaintiff, respectively, in the lawsuit that suddenly has shredded Delaware’s established practices of 10-day early voting and permanent absentee voting status for Delawareans with disabilities. But blame must also be placed squarely at the feet of House Minority Leader Mike Ramone, and Rep. Mike Smith, who both represent Democratic-majority districts and together changed their votes to block a constitutional amendment on voting rights after President Trump began peddling the Big Lie of a stolen election in 2020.”

See the court decision below:

See the court decision below: