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New law eases access to absentee voting

Courtesy of the Office of the Governor
Gov. John Carney signs a law making it easier to vote absentee.

Gov. John Carney (D) signed a law Friday that will make it easier for Delawareans to vote absentee.

Under the new law you no longer have to get a request for an absentee ballot notarized. 


A notary — usually found at a bank or UPS store — verifies your identity and places a seal on your affidavit explaining why you need to vote absentee.


State Election Commissioner Elaine Manlove says that’s a hurdle in the absentee voting process for people who aren’t used to voting that way.


"It’s my job to make it easier for people to vote, and this was one impendent that has always concerned me, so I’m happy to have it out of our way," Manlove said.


She said she worried the need for a notary to vote absentee kept some Delawareans from voting at all. 


"We don't have vast numbers of absentee voters, but I don't want to lose one," Manlove said. 


She continued, "We have some people that are used to voting absentee because they're aways away that time and are used to the process. Those that aren't may find that one more stumbling block.”


That included students going to college out-of-state and newer voters, she said.


Rep. Lyndon Yearick (R) and Sen. Brian Bushweller (D) sponsored the legislation alongside Sen. Brian Pettyjohn (R) and Rep. Kim Williams (D). They were joined by college students as Gov. Carney signed the legislation in Dover.


“We should always look for ways to make it easier for qualified Delaware voters to participate in the Democratic process — not more difficult,” Carney said. “This legislation does just that. It takes the common sense step of removing a barrier that had a specific negative impact on young Delawareans attending college out of state." 


And Manlove is hoping to go a step further in the future. 


She’s pushing for a change to Delaware’s constitution that would no longer require voters to have a valid excuse to get an absentee ballot.


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