A small and increasingly-blue state, Delaware often has a competitive state legislative landscape. It also has too many restrictive voting rights policies for a blue state. Substantial reforms are needed in the year ahead.
Delaware’s 2019 legislative session has concluded. Stay tuned for how you can take action to expand voting rights in Delaware next session.
Automatic Voter Registration- No automatic voter registration is provided in Delaware.
RECOMMENDATION: Implement Governor Carney’s proposal for automatic voter registration in Delaware.
Online Voter Registration- Online voter registration is available for Delaware residents.
Same-Day Registration- Though previous legislative efforts have sought to change this, no same-day registration is provided in Delaware. The registration deadline is 24 days before the election.
RECOMMENDATION: Enact House Bill 39, which would implement same-day registration.
Voter ID Requirement- Voter ID is required to vote. However, a non-photo ID can be provided, such as a utility bill, paycheck, or any government document that confirms the voter’s name and address.
RECOMMENDATION: Eliminate the voter ID requirements in the state to minimize the suppressive effect of these requirements.
Early Voting- Delaware does not offer early voting.
RECOMMENDATION: In 2019, legislation was passed and signed into law that allows for up to 10 days of Early Voting in Delaware.
No Excuse Absentee- Absentee voting in Delaware is only allowed if voters meet one of the eligibility requirements from a restrictive set of excuses.
RECOMMENDATION: Implement Governor Carney’s proposal to remove excuses associated with absentee voting.
Mail-In Voting- Mail-in voting is allowed through the limited excuses provided in the absentee voting process. Mail-in voting is not a broader practice, as in states like California, Oregon, or Washington.
RECOMMENDATION: Move toward greater use of mail-in voting as the predominant form of voting.
Felon Re-Enfranchisement- People with felony convictions of all but very severe crimes (murder, bribery, and sexual offenses) have their voting rights automatically restored upon completion of their sentence, parole, and probation. There has been recent progress on this front. In July 2016, Governor Markell signed SB 242 into law, removing the financial bar to rights restoration by eliminating the requirement that returning citizens pay all financial obligations before regaining their eligibility to vote.
RECOMMENDATION: Restore voting rights for returning citizens immediately upon the completion of the sentence alone.
Voter Bill of Rights- A set of frequently asked questions is provided on the Delaware Department of Elections website, but there is not a clear bill of rights available for voters.
RECOMMENDATION: Clarify a voter bill of rights and disseminate it to voters through online resources and materials sent to voters.
Polling Hours- On Election Day, polling places are open 7 am to 8 pm, for a total voting time of 13 hours.
RECOMMENDATION: Increase voting times to 14 hours to match leading states.
Wait Time Service Standard- Like other states, Delaware does not have a wait time service standard. With few other options for voters, improving the Election Day experience is a critical voting rights improvement for Delaware.
RECOMMENDATION: Implement and monitor a wait time service standard for polling places in Delaware.
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