Delawareans are one step closer to being able to vote by mail in the general election this fall due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The state House passed legislation in a virtual session Thursday, June 18, 2020, that gives all voters the ability to cast a ballot in any election this year without compromising their health or safety. The measure passed along party lines in a vote 25-13.
“The depth and scope of the current COVID-19 crisis and its impact on our communities has fundamentally shifted the way we live our lives” said Rep. Longhurst (D-Bear), the measure's sponsor, in a written statement. “Preserving Delawareans’ fundamental right to vote is imperative. We need to make sure voters have the ability to cast their ballots without risking their health and safety. This bill establishes the process for protecting our elections and our health.”
The measure comes after voters waited hours to cast a ballot in-person in the Christina referendum and ahead of what lawmakers called any possible resurgence of COVID-19 this fall.
Delawareans are already permitted, under executive order from the governor, issued during the COVID-19 State of Emergency, to vote by mail in the upcoming presidential primary July 7, 2020.
The process to vote by mail mirrors the absentee ballot system that's been used for decades in the state. The Delaware Department of Education will mail out ballots to every qualified voter; ballots must be signed, under penalty of perjury, dated, and sent back by the date of the election--when it would then be counted. Voters don’t pay postage to vote by mail; postage for the mailings will be paid for by DOE and could be covered by federal CARES Act funding.
The measure now heads to the state Senate for a vote, where it must pass before session ends on June 30, 2020.