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Bill would ease restrictions on absentee ballots in Delaware

A Delaware lawmaker introduced a bill this week that would make it easier to vote by mail.


Representative Earl Jaques (D -Glasgow) wants to remove language in the state constitution that requires voters show a valid excuse for obtaining an absentee ballot.


And that's going to be an uphill battle. 


Since its a constitution change, he needs approval from 2/3 of the General Assembly in two consecutive two-year sessions, which means he needs Republican votes.


And that could be a tall order. Republicans blocked Jaques’ last attempt to do the same thing in 2015, saying it would increase voter fraud.


But State Election Commissioner Elaine Manlove says that’s clearly not true. What it would do, she said, is make voting easier.


"All of us in elections have always tried to make it easier to register to vote so we’re always happy to make it easier for voters,” she said. 


Right now, members of the military and people with disabilities can get absentee ballots without question. Otherwise, you can only get one if you sign an affidavit saying you’ll be out of town.


Manlove said she suspects many voters lie on these affidavits to obtain absentee ballots, and Jaques’ bill would remove the incentive for Delawareans to perjure themselves.


A separate bill in the legislature would remove the requirement that a vote-by-mail affidavit be notarized


Correction: A previous version of this story stated that a constitutional amendment required a 3/5 majority to pass, instead of a 2/3 majority.