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Delaware lawmakers may try passing early voting legislation again next year

Some state lawmakers say they may try again to pass early voting legislation in Delaware.

The House passed early voting legislation in June along party lines. The bill sponsored by State Rep. David Bentz allowed a 10-day early voting period including the weekend before the vote.

State Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf said it would help Delawareans avoid potential barriers to voting - like bad weather.

“With early voting, you have a week’s notice anyway of a hurricane, whether it’s going to come to your area or not," he said. "They can go vote and then they don’t have to worry about being out on the road on a hurricane day.”

Schwartzkopf said the rain on Election Day last week discouraged some people from voting, but those Delawareans could have made their voices heard before that if there was early voting.

“If they were looking at the forecast and saw it was going to be such a nasty day," he said. "Well, first off, we lucked out. We didn’t get the rain until in the afternoon. So we had a ton of people come in until 1 p.m., 1:30 - 2 p.m. and then rain hit (and) it kind of dwindled off.”

The Senate was going to take up Bentz’s early voting bill on the last night of session, but it lacked the votes. The bill allowed early voting in county and city of Wilmington races as well as state elections. Lawmakers were told it would change the city of Wilmington’s charter and apparently required a supermajority.

Currently 37 states and the District of Columbia allow voters to cast ballots ahead of Election Day, whether by mail or in person. Delaware currently allows absentee voting before Election Day with a state approved excuse.

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