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Delaware Headlines

Lawsuit filed challenging election integrity in Delaware

brady_integrity_lawsuit.jpg
Roman Battaglia
/
Delaware Public Media
Delaware Republican Party chair Jane Brady speaks at a press conference about the lawsuit.

A lawsuit filed by an inspector of elections in Delaware claims early voting and permanent absentee provisions passed by state lawmakers are unconstitutional.

The lawsuit claims the way state lawmakers expanded access to elections hasn’t always been constitutional.

Specifically, the plaintiffs claim early voting and permanent absentee voting provisions conflict with the text in the state constitution.

Delaware Republican Party chair Jane Brady is filing the lawsuit on behalf of Michael Mennella, who’s served as an inspector of elections for the state for the last five to six years.

“Really what Mr. Mannella is seeking is an order of the court clarifying what his duties are so that he’s in compliance,” she says.

Brady says she only became aware of the potential legal ramifications eight months ago, and began investigating them.

Permanent absentee voting was signed into law back in 2010 and approved almost unanimously by lawmakers. Early voting passed in 2019, but takes effect this year.

“For the legislative process I was not a part of it,” says Brady. “I became aware of both of these issues after I became chair and started looking at the 2020 elections.”

38 other states also permit early voting, and many, including New Jersey, Vermont and Wyoming don’t include provisions for early voting in their constitutions either.

Permanent absentee voting has been in place at least twice as long as Mennella has served the Department of Elections.

Brady insists this isn’t meant to be political, but to provide clarity on existing laws.

The lawsuit also only applies to the general election, not primary elections or special elections, including the special election scheduled for March 5th.

The Department of Elections couldn’t be reached for comment.

Roman Battaglia is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.