House Republicans oppose Democrats’ voting constitutional amendment


Republican legislators have made it clear they will oppose a constitutional amendment on absentee voting, citing the possibility that Democrats could rewrite voting laws by a simple majority.

Senate Bill 3, the first leg of a proposed constitutional amendment, was approved by the State Senate last May on a party-line vote.

The legislation would remove the language governing absentee voting from the state constitution, giving the General Assembly the authority to enact new processes by a majority vote.

A similar failed to pass the House in 2021 during the 151st General Assembly. Democrats accused Republican legislators of falling in line with the national party’s stance on voting restrictions. Former President Donald Trump earlier claimed mail-in voting was ripe for corruption.

At present, House Republicans have a two-vote margin, which would be needed to stop the amendment. It takes votes from two consecutive general assemblies to adopt a constitutional amendment.


Commenting on the bill last year, House Republican Leader Mike Ramone (R-Pike Creek South) said adopting SB 3 would allow House and Senate Democrats — who hold large majorities in both houses – to authorize absentee voting and vote-by-mail laws favoring their candidates quickly.

“Senate Bill 3 would remove the absentee voting language from the state constitution, giving majority Democrats the authority to recreate the process by simple statute,” Ramone said. “This bill is solely intended to allow Democratic lawmakers to install a de facto vote-by-mail scheme.”

Ramone is one of two Republicans from Pike Creek who are responsible for the two-vote edge. Ramone won his seat by less than 50 votes in the past election, while Rep. Michael Smith won back his seat by a decisive margin. GOP legislators were angered by Democrats noting that the two northern Delaware legislators had switched earlier votes.

The Democrats’ measure is in response to a 2022 Delaware Supreme Court decision in Albence v. Higgins. In the case, the high court struck down vote-by-mail and same-day registration laws as unconstitutional.

Delaware Attorney General Kathy Jennings is appealing the lower court ruling, claiming the decision could disenfranchise the most vulnerable voters.

Republicans who filed the suit with the help of a conservative action group, found out that the Superior Court judge also overturned permanent absentee voting for the disabled and homebound. That measure was passed by a large margin more than a decade earlier.

Republican legislators have introduced a bill that would allow early voting under a constitutional amendment. However, it makes no mention of absentee voting, which is now allowed if an individual is out of state, serving in the military elsewhere, or is incapacitated.

Delaware is said to have one of the most restricted voting laws in the nation.