General Assembly Open Thread

SB94 / SB119 – Lavelle, Marshall team up to restrict voting rights.

Greg Lavelle, I understand.  He is a Republican.  He doesn’t want people voting.  To him, voting is a privilege for monied property owning white people.   He pitched a fit during the special election back in February when it was discovered that minors  (or those under the age of 18) were allowed to vote for Stephanie Hansen (D) if they so chose.   The reason why is because state election law allows any person who will be 18 by the next general election can vote in special and primary elections that are held before that next general election.   So it makes sense that he wants to change that law.

That’s what SB94 is all about.  That bill would require you to be 18 years old on the day of the election you want to vote in.

Update: Senator Bryan Townsend (D) is or was a co-sponsor of this bill, but he does not support SB94 as it is currently written.  He and I spoke this morning and he wants to craft a law that will allow a person who will be 18 years old by the general election held in the same year to be allowed to vote in the primary election that precedes that general election, even if they are under 18 years old on the actual day of the primary election.  So he will either attempt to get an amendment agreed to regarding SB94 in short order or he will withdraw his name and introduce his own bill to that affect.

However, Senator Townsend’s potential bill, like Senator Lavelle’s SB94, would still correct the situation we encountered with Stephanie Hansen’s February 2017 special election.  There, due to a quirk in the law, it was legal for someone who would have been 18 on election day in November 2018 to vote in the special election even though they were only 16 years old at the time of the special election.   As Senator Townsend explained it to me, it does make sense to correct that loophole.  A special election is the final general election for that office.  So if a person is not 18 on the day of the general election, no matter if it is a regularly schedule biannual election held in November or a special election called by statute due to the vacancy of the office; he or she will not be able to vote in the election unless they are 18.

And I think that is fair.

But what Senator Lavelle wants to do is a blanket ban on any person voting in any election, whether primary or general, if they are not 18.   So if we have a September (or April) primary election, a 17 year old who will be 18 by election day in November, would be unable to vote in the primary.   To me, that’s unfair.

AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 15 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO ELECTIONS.


UPDATED: 6/15/17
SPONSORS: Lavelle, D.Short, Hocker, Simpson, Briggs King, Collins, Dukes, Hensley, Hudson, Miro, Spiegelman, Wilson, Yearick
YES VOTES – HOUSE:
YES VOTES – SENATE:
NO VOTES – HOUSE:
NO VOTES – SENATE:
HISTORY: Placed in the Senate Elections & Government Affairs Committee on 6/6/17
STATUS: Awaiting consideration in committee
View HTMLView PDF

But Senator Bob Marshall and Rep. Larry Mitchell?  I am not sure why they both are sponsoring SB119.   SB119 was introduced as part of a package of bills that aim to protect children from abuse and predators.   But this specific bill would just prohibit a person, who was adjudicated a delinquent for a crime that would otherwise be a felony if the person was not a minor, from being a qualified voter for a period of 10 years.  It has nothing to do with child abuse or protecting children from predators and criminals.  The only redeeming quality is that this deprivation of one’s constitutional voting rights is temporary, for 10 years.

But I am of the opinion that if a person has paid their debt to society and served their sentence, whether it be when they were a juvenile or when they are an adult, they are entitled to a restoration of all their rights, including the right to vote.  So Democrats must vote no on this bill, and Senator Marshall and Rep. Mitchell need to rethink what they are doing here.

AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 15 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO ELECTIONS.


UPDATED: 6/15/17
SPONSORS: Marshall, Mitchell
YES VOTES – HOUSE:
YES VOTES – SENATE:
NO VOTES – HOUSE:
NO VOTES – SENATE:
HISTORY: Placed in Senate Elections & Government Affairs Committee on 6/13/17
STATUS: Awaiting consideration in committee
View HTML View PDF

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

6 comments on “SB94 / SB119 – Lavelle, Marshall team up to restrict voting rights.

  1. Loophole or not, 16 year olds should be allowed to vote. If anything, we should be expanding the franchise to those younger, not closing the one loophole that allows them to vote. 18 years old is a precarious time to institute the franchise – many young people are voting absentee as they are away at college. If I can drive a car with 16 year olds on the road – and all the risks that come with that privilege – they are certainly fine to vote.

    • Delaware Dem

      To do that, we would have to amend either the Delaware Constitution or U.S. Constitution. So unlikely in the short term. But I don’t disagree. By instilling civil virtue through voting earlier in life, it will have a positive affect.

      • Exactly. And I’m not under any illusion as to the difficulty of expanding the vote to younger people, I’m just saying that “loophole” that brings us closer to that goal isn’t a loophole I want closed.

  2. DD – out of curiosity, why would a vote by a 16 year old for a state rep or a state senator be unconstitutional? Do we even have federal level special elections, or does Delaware allow the Governor to simply appoint a replacement to fulfill a term (like Ted Kaufman)?

    I don’t see any Constitutional barrier to keeping this law as is.

    • Delaware Dem

      It’s not unconstitutional, or illegal. And if the GA wants to keep the law as is, it can. The 26th Amendment set the voting age for federal and state elections at 18 years, but does not prevent states from establishing a lower voting age. 22 states permit 17-year-olds to vote in primary elections and caucuses if they will be 18 by election day: Alaska, Delaware, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Virginia, Vermont, and Washington. Minnesota allows 17-year-olds to participate in presidential caucuses, but may not vote in primary elections for other offices.

      Delaware appears to be the only state that allows a 16 year old to vote in a special election if they are 18 years old by the next general election.

      So this is not a question of constitutionality. I am persuaded by Bryan’s argument that a special election is a general election in and of itself, though.

    • Delaware Dem

      We would have a federal level special election for the House without an appointment by the Governor if a Congressman resigned midterm. If a Senator resigned mid term, Delaware law allows an appointment by the Governor until the next scheduled general election. And that election would be to only the remaining unexpired portion of the resigning Senator’s term. See Biden’s resignation in 2009, Kaufmann’s appointment in 2009, and then Coon’s election in 2010 to serve until 2014.

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