Delaware Vote Tracker

HB 146 – Municipal Election Registration

House Bill 146 is a bipartisan bill that will seek to make voter registration in municipal elections easier, thus hopefully increasing turnout in these historically very low turnout elections.

Currently, of the 57 municipalities in this State, only 12 have an agreement with the Department of Elections to use the State’s Voter Registration System to determine if a resident of the municipality is eligible to vote in a municipal election. These municipalities are Camden, Delaware City, Dover, Elsmere, Georgetown, Harrington, New Castle, Newark, Smyrna, Townsend, Wilmington, and Wyoming.

The residents of the 45 other municipalities are required to register with the municipality before voting in a municipal election. While some municipalities are exploring ending municipal voter registration requirements, House Bill 146 will do that for all.

A municipality would continue to be required to maintain municipal voter registration requirements for nonresident voters, as those voters would not be included in the State’s Voter Registration System. This Act also makes technical corrections to conform existing law to the standards of the Delaware Legislative Drafting Manual.

House Bill 185 SponsorsYes VotesNo Votes
Shupe, Bentz, K.Johnson, Osienski
Lockman, Hansen, Paradee, Sokola
Current Status — House Administration 4/15/21

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1 comment on “HB 146 – Municipal Election Registration

  1. Mitch Crane

    This is an excellent bill and today is a perfect day to promote it as the most ridiculous example of the need for this change can be seen this day, The City of Lewes is holding its municipal election today. Voters will elect members of city council and members of the Board of Public Works, In order to vote in these elections, one must specifically register, as Lewes does not utilize the state voter registration lists. The effect historically in this and many other communities is that people new to the community and registered with the state do not know about special registration until they try to vote and are turned away. This system has also worked to discourage working people and people of color as most municipalities restrict registration to hours during the work day.

    What makes Lewes more absurd is why I wrote “in order to vote in these elections”. If you want to vote for city council, you must have registered at city hall. You also must vote at city hall today. If you also desire to vote for the public works board, you must have registered at the Public Works Building. You also have to go there today in order to vote, These are two separate elections, in separate locations….and only open to the select few who knew to and took the time to register for each at different places.

    There are other equally egregious examples. One community charter prohibits voting if you owe municipal taxes.

    I studied this issue at the request of the League of Women Voters of Delaware last session. I know the League supports this bill. I hope people who support making voting easier and support the excellent bills that have been filed this session, will vocalize to their legislators support for this one.

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