Delawareans can now cast their ballots by mail in the primary and general elections in 2020 under legislation signed by Governor John Carney Wednesday.
"Voting is a right, and it's not a privilege, and we should never have to choose between our health or the right to vote," said House Majority Leader Val Longhurst, who sponsored the legislation.
House Bill 346 expands the use of the vote-by-mail process due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. It's already being used for the presidential primary, with 72,000 requests for absentee ballots.
"Which is enormous, compared to what we would normally have for a presidential primary," said Anthony Albence, state elections commissioner.
The ability to vote by no-excuse absentee ballot is simply an option. The vote-by-mail ballot won't look any different than the absentee ballot.
Senate President Pro Tempore David McBride, who also sponsored the legislation, sought to dispel misconceptions about the vote-by-mail process.
"Those who wish to vote in-person are still welcomed to do so," said McBride.
Albence also reassured voters:
"Voters will have the normal quantity of polling places, and they will report to their usual polling place," he said. "The only issues that we could possibly encounter--an this has happened, more so, a few instances in New Castle County is there are polling places at some senior living facilities and senior care facilities, they actually have required that we relocate them, and we normally do notify the voters in that case, but certainly, we honor their requests."
Albence said they'll select alternative polling places "close by" in the events those instances occurred.
Current state law does not require ballot signature verification.
"We do have many voters' signatures on file, thanks to our longtime affiliation with DMV and other state agencies, so that can be an option, if we have an issue or there's a potential challenge--that can be a point of reference," said Albence.
Albence added any information provided by the voter must match what the department has on-file. Voter contact would be made in the event of a questionable ballot.
All ballots postmarked before Election Day, but received after Election Day will not be counted, according to Albence.
"Delaware code, we are a vote-by-ballot in-hand state. Our code requires the ballot to be back in the county office that issued it by tine of close of polls, so we have to physically have it in-hand."
Secure ballot drop boxes will also be available at Department of Election offices.