Early voting, same-day registration, an earlier primary: could they be coming to Delaware?

The way you vote in Delaware could be in for an overhaul.

Early voting, same-day registration and a shift of the state primary date are gaining support among state lawmakers, with the support of Governor John Carney.

Wednesday, three bills were filed in the House, where they passed in the previous General Assembly but did not go any further. Their intent, according to the sponsors, is to drive up voter turnout by making it easier and less time-consuming to cast a ballot.

"Voting is a fundamental part of our society. We should be doing everything in our power to make it easier for working Delawareans across the state to vote in our elections, because when everyone participates we all stand to do better," State Representative David Bentz, D- Christiana, said.

Bentz is the sponsor of a bill that would allow Delawareans to vote in person up to ten days before a general, primary or special election. 35 other states have a form of early voting.

Same-day registration at the polls would be allowed under a measure sponsored by Representative John Viola, D- Bear. A voter would be required to display a valid government-issued photo ID card or other identifying paperwork such as a utility bill, bank statement, paycheck or other document that displays an address. 

"Right now we have an arbitrary deadline to register to vote of three weeks before an election. Some people, often young people or those who just moved to the state, don't think to register to vote until it's right before the election, and by then it's too late," Viola said. 

Representative Stephanie T. Boulden, D- Wilmington East, is the sponsor of a proposal that would move Delaware's state primary from the second Tuesday after the first Monday in September to the fourth Tuesday of April, to coincide with the state's presidential primary.

"While it might seem an inconvenience to some by having an earlier primary, we owe it to the residents to do whatever we can to improve our electoral process and I'm confident that this is a step in the right direction," Bolden said. She added that consolidating primaries would reduce voter confusion and save money for the state. 

The bills are assigned to the House Administration Committee in Dover.

Reporter - Anchor

Mark Fowser is a veteran journalist in Delaware.