House Bill 346, which will allow all eligible voters to cast ballots by mail for any elections held in calendar year 2020, passed the House along party lines, 25-13. No Republican voted for it, revealing their anti-democracy views and their desire to oppress the vote. Northern New Castle County Republicans Mike Ramone and Mike Smith took the cowardly way out, and did not vote. They did that knowing how popular vote by mail is up here in the civilized world, but voting yes in line with their districts would anger the Trumpian base. And voting no would anger everyone else.
The process would mirror the absentee voting system that has been utilized successfully for decades in Delaware. Under HB 346, the state Department of Elections would mail an application for a vote-by-mail ballot to every qualified voter (in the state primary, this would be registered Democrats and Republicans). Any voter wishing to vote by mail would need to complete the application, sign and date it, and mail it back to the Department of Elections.
Between four and 30 days before each election, DOE will mail ballots to each voter who requested a vote-by-mail ballot. The mailing will include instructions for completing and returning the ballot. Postage for all these mailings will be pre-paid by DOE. There is no cost to a resident to vote by mail.
“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. “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.”
“I commend my colleagues in the House for sending HB 346 to the Senate for final consideration,” said Senate Majority Leader Nicole Poore, a prime sponsor of the vote-by-mail bill. “As our state recovers from COVID-19, it is imperative that we take steps to ensure Delawareans can continue to participate in the democratic process. This legislation will provide voters with the option of casting their ballots from home for this election cycle only while also preserving their right to vote in-person at designated polling sites. No one should ever have to choose between protecting their health and voting in an election and this bill will ensure they are never faced with that impossible choice.”
WHERE IS THE BILL NOW? Passed House 25-13-2-1. Sent to the Senate.
DEMOCRATIC SPONSORS – Longhurst, McBride, Poore, Townsend, Walsh, Schwartzkopf, Mitchell, Brady, Brown, Ennis, Hansen, Lockman, McDowell, Paradee, Sokola, Sturgeon, Baumbach, Bennett, Bentz, Bolden, Bush, Carson, Chukwuocha, Cooke, Dorsey Walker, Griffith, Heffernan, Jaques, K.Johnson, Q.Johnson, Kowalko, Lynn, Matthews, Minor-Brown, Osienski, Seigfried, Viola, K.Williams
REPUBLICAN SPONSORS –
- YES – HOUSE – Baumbach | Bennett | Bentz | Bolden | Brady | Bush | Carson | Chukwuocha | Cooke | Dorsey Walker | Griffith | Heffernan | Jaques | K.Johnson | K.Williams | Kowalko | Longhurst | Lynn | Matthews | Minor-Brown | Mitchell | Osienski | Q.Johnson | Schwartzkopf | Seigfried |Viola
- NO – HOUSE – Briggs King | Collins | D.Short | Dukes | Gray | Hensley | Morris | Postles | Shupe | Smyk | Spiegelman | Vanderwende | Yearick
- ABSENT – Q.Johnson
- NOT VOTING – Smith, Ramone