Last September, the Delaware Supreme Court in Albence v. Higgins, 2022 Del. LEXIS 377 (Del. 2022), ruled that the Vote by Mail law enacted last year by the General Assembly was unconstitutional.
Vice Chancellor Nathan Cook ruled that the law violates a provision in Delaware’s constitution that spells out the circumstances under which a person is allowed to cast an absentee ballot. “Our Supreme Court and this court have consistently stated that those circumstances are exhaustive,” Cook wrote. “Therefore, as a trial judge, I am compelled by precedent to conclude that the vote-by-mail statute’s attempt to expand absentee voting … must be rejected.”
Those circumstances are as follows:
- You are in public service or are a spouse or dependent living with or accompanying the person in public service. This also applies to members of the Uniformed Armed Services.
- You cannot make it to the polls due to the nature of your business or occupation. This includes people providing care to a parent, spouse or child living at home and requiring constant care; students; and otherwise eligible people who are incarcerated.
- You are sick or temporarily or permanently physically disabled
- You are absent from the district while on vacation
- Due to the tenets or teachings of your religion
- You are temporarily living outside the US or are a spouse or dependent living with the person living outside the US (if you choose this reason you will receive a full primary ballot, however, you will only have the Federal Offices on your General Ballot).
Senate Bill 3 is the first leg of a constitutional amendment to eliminate these exhaustive and exclusive limitations on when an individual may vote absentee or by mail. The Amendment authorizes the General Assembly to enact general laws providing the circumstances, rules, and procedures for absentee voting in this State. Such and Amendment, if passed, would then allow the General Assembly to pass laws allowing for general voting by mail that we experienced in 2020 and 2022.
This Amendment will have to pass each house of the General Assembly by a two/thirds majority vote, or 28 votes in the House and 14 in the Senate. And once that occurs, the Amendment will have to be passed again in 2025 in a new session of the General Assembly.
|Senate Bill 3 – Vote by Mail Amendment||Currrent Status – Senate Executive 3/9/23|
|House Sponsors – Moore, Baumbach, Bolden, Heffernan, Morrison, Williams||Senate Sponsors – Brown, Hansen, Sturgeon, Gay, Hoffner, Huxtable, Mantzavinos, Paradee, Sokola, Townsend, Walsh|
|House Yes Votes –||Senate Yes Votes –|
|House No Votes –||Senate No Votes –|
|House Absents or Not Voting –||Senate Absent or Not Voting –|
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