Delaware Vote Tracker

Senate Passes Muncipal Election Registration Reform

The Senate passed Senate Bill 233 along party lines, even though House Republican Representative Bryan Shupe is an outspoken sponsor of the bill. This bill will reform voter registration in muncipal elections by eliminating some muncipalities’ requirement that the eligible voter register to vote separately with the muncipality even if they are already registered to vote with the state. Thus, it will make voting easier for residents in local elections. But of course, Republicans are always against doing that because they believe voting is not a right and should be made as difficult as possible, throwing as many hurdles and obstacles in the voter’s way as needed to prevent them from actually voting.

Senator Tizzy Lockman, the lead sponsor in the Senate: “Imagine having an official State of Delaware registered voter card and casting your ballot in both federal and state elections, only to show up for your next town council election and being told you can’t participate because you’re not registered. That exact scenario plays out across Delaware almost every year because – outside of a few select towns and cities – most municipalities still maintain their own voter registration, separate and apart from the voter rolls maintained by the Delaware Department of Elections.”

“I want to thank my colleagues in the Delaware Senate for voting today to pass bipartisan legislation that will end this double registration process by bringing all resident voters rolls into the state system. The more we can make voting simpler, easier and more convenient, the better our democracy will work for everyone.”

Senate Bill 233 SponsorsYes VotesNo Votes
Lockman, McBride, PinkneySenate passed 14-7. Brown Ennis Gay Hansen Lockman Mantzavinos Paradee Pinkney Poore S.McBride Sokola Sturgeon Townsend Walsh Bonini Hocker Lawson Lopez Pettyjohn Richardson Wilson
Shupe, Bentz, Baumbach, K.Johnson, Minor-Brown, Morrison, Wilson-Anton
Current Status: House Administration 3/23/22

Delaware has 57 municipalities that conduct their own elections, and 40 of them have their own voter registration process separate from the state registration system. This practice can lead many eligible voters in these muncipalities to be disenfranchised if they think that registering to vote with the state is sufficient to participate in all state and local elections. Indeed, it would be common sense for the voter to think that since since state registration is sufficient for voting in school board elections.

Senate Bill 233 would affect only eligible voters who are residents of the muncipalties. It does not affect local provisions that allow business or property owners who are not residents of the muncipalities to participate in the local election. To the extent that a muncipality has a registration provision that allows voting by local business or property owners, those provisions remain intact.

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

2 comments on “Senate Passes Muncipal Election Registration Reform

  1. Mitch Crane

    This is a good and very-much needed bill. Two years ago I researched this issue for the Advocacy Corp of the League of Woman Voters of Delaware. It was shocking that nearly 60 municipalities required separate voter registration in order to vote in municipal election. Most new residents find this out when they go to vote in their first municipal election and find out their having registered to vote at the DMV did not allow then to vote for their local mayor and council. Research disclosed that most of these communities allowed voters to register only at the town hall and only during normal office hours. There were some more egregious requirements in these municipal charters- one Kent community prohibits people who owe taxes from voting. A Sussex community held its Mayor/council and its Board of Public Works elections on the same day. However voters had to go to town hall for the mayor/council election and to the Public Works building for these separate elections. In a time of expanding voter access and a reality of a small percentage of a town’s residents voting in and registered for municipal elections, it is a no brainer to require municipalities to merge a list those residents who are registered with the state into their system if their municipal charter also allows non-resident property owners to vote, Rehoboth Beach Commissioners a few days ago stated their opposition to the proposed bill because merging would be “too difficult”. Nonsense. A file of all voters in a community who are registered with the State can be obtained on a disc and easily merged with the communities otherwise-registered voters. I am glad this bill has passed the Senate. I fail to understand why no Republican senators supported it. I congratulate Rep. Bryan Shupe for being House Prime (a companion bill was filed last year by him and was voted out of committee; however it remains on the Ready List). This is not a partisan issue. All politics is local and residents of every town and city should have easy access to registering for and voting in these local elections.

    • cassandram

      Making voting easy for citizens should be a no-brainer everywhere since we keep claiming to be the Greatest Democracy in the World. The GOP, of course, is invested in trying to implement minority rule everywhere, so I guess voting against helping even your own voters to make themselves heard is no longer of interest to them. Good for the Democrats who voted their values here. The GOP certainly did.

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