The House finally acted on Senate Bill 320 Wednesday evening, passing the bill that will provide a vote by mail option to Delaware voters by a vote of 25-12 with three not voting and one absent. The brave not voters are Democrat Bill Bush and Republicans Kevin Hensley and Mike Ramone. Democrat Larry Lambert was absent. Republican Michael Smith joined all the other Democrats in voting yes. All other Republicans voted no.
The Senate had earlier passed the bill 13-8. Democratic Senator Darius Brown voted no along with all the Republican Senators, adding “opposing democracy” to “hating women” on the list of things they have in common.
Sponsored by Rep. Krista Griffith and Sen. Kyle Evans Gay, Senate Bill 320 would direct the Delaware Department of Elections to provide an application to all registered voters for a mail ballot before a state primary, general, or special election.
Voters who complete an online or paper application would then receive a mail ballot, instructions to complete the mail ballot, and a postage-paid envelope before Election Day. Completed ballots could then be returned by mail, deposited in a secure drop box, or delivered directly to the Department’s offices located in each of Delaware’s three counties. Voters also would be able to track the status of their ballot through a free online portal.
Under SB 320, a team made up equally of Democrats and Republicans appointed by the State Election Commissioner would be responsible for opening mail ballots, checking them against the Department’s list of voters, and counting them by election district.
The Department would be required to reject ballots if the voter is not registered by the deadline, the ballot envelope is open, or in instances of evident tampering. Ballots also could be challenged if the voter did not request a ballot or the ballot is not signed, among other reasons.
SB 320 permits any qualified voter to cast their ballot by mail through the General Assembly’s existing power in Article V, Section 1 of the Constitution to prescribe the means, methods, and instruments of voting. Currently, at least 23 states allow some form of mail ballot.
SB 320 goes to Governor Carney for his signature.
|Senate Bill 320 Sponsors||Yes Votes||No Votes|
|Gay, Townsend, Sokola, Lockman, Sturgeon, Walsh, Ennis, Hansen, Mantzavinos, S.McBride, Paradee, Pinkney, Poore||Senate Passes 13-8. Ennis Gay Hansen Lockman Mantzavinos Paradee Pinkney Poore S.McBride Sokola Sturgeon Townsend Walsh||Brown Bonini Hocker Lawson Lopez Pettyjohn Richardson Wilson|
|Griffith, Longhurst, Dorsey Walker, Baumbach, Bentz, Bolden, Carson, Chukwuocha, Cooke, Freel, Heffernan, K.Johnson, Kowalko, Lambert, Lynn, Minor-Brown, Mitchell, S.Moore, Morrison, Osienski, K.Williams, Wilson-Anton||House Passes 25-12-3-1. Baumbach Bennett Bentz Bolden Friel Carson Chukwuocha Cooke Dorsey-Walker Griffith Heffernan K.Johnson K.Williams Kowalko Longhurst Lynn Matthews Minor-Brown Mitchell Morrison Osienski S.Moore Schwartzkopf Wilson-Anton M.Smith||Briggs King Collins D.Short Dukes Gray Morris Postles Shupe Smyk Spiegelman Vanderwende Yearick|
Not Voting: Bush, Hensley, Ramone
|Current Status:||Sent to the Governor.|
“Since the 1980s, more and more states have passed laws allowing their residents to vote by mail for any reason, and these methods have been implemented successfully,” said Rep. Griffith. “Democracy functions best when everyone has the opportunity to participate in it. But today’s world is hectic, between work, family obligations, illness or unexpected emergencies. Allowing all residents the option to vote by mail will provide them with a safe, convenient way to have their voice heard.”
“A democratic government that truly works for the people should do everything in its power to make voting accessible,” said Sen. Gay, chair of the Senate Elections and Government Affairs Committee and the prime sponsor of SB 320. “Delaware proved in 2020 that mail balloting is safe, secure, feasible and an effective avenue for expanding voter participation. I want to thank my colleagues in the House for supporting working families, seniors, and Delawareans concerned for their health with a vote-by-mail option as we head into the next election cycle.”