Delaware Supreme Court Strikes Down Voting Law

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On Friday (October 7), the Delaware Supreme Court ruled that same-day voter registration and vote-by-mail legislation were unconstitutional.

Friday’s ruling, which comes a month before November’s midterms, followed justices hearing arguments about the case, which centers around whether allowing all voters to vote by mail and same-day voter registration was allowed by the state constitution.

In its ruling, the court concluded that the vote-by-mail law “impermissibly expands the categories of absentee voters identified” in Delaware’s state constitution.
The three-page ruling also indicated that the same-day voter registration conflicted with the voter registration periods outlined in the state’s constitution.

Currently, Delaware’s state constitution dictates that voter registration cannot commence more than 120 days before a general election or 60 days before an election. It cannot end more than 20 days or less than 10 days before an election.

The state constitution also declares that absentee ballots are only allowed if voters are unable to go to the polls on Election Day because of public service or business commitments, if they have physical disabilities, are on vacation, are sick, or have religious reasons.

Democrats did not welcome Friday’s ruling, arguing that the new legislation would make it “easier” for eligible voters to cast their ballot.

In a statement on Friday, a spokeswoman for Governor John Carney (D) said, “The governor’s position has been simple and consistent,” adding, “We should make it easier — not harder — for all eligible Delawareans to vote and participate in our democratic process.”

Democrats hoped changes to voting legislation would lead to improved voter turnout during the midterms.

Republicans, however, welcomed the ruling, with Delaware’s Republican Party chairwoman Jane Brady saying, “I am very pleased the court recognized that the language of the constitution really matters,” adding that the ruling is “a win for the rule of law.”