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Could Delaware voters be able to vote-by-mail permanently?

Tiffany Tertipes / Unsplash

Record numbers of Delawareans voted absentee in the presidential primary earlier this month and this week’s school board elections.

And legislation already passed this year by state lawmakers allows all registered voters to vote by mail in the upcoming September primary and general election in November.


All registered voters will receive an application in the mail to allow them to apply to vote-by-mail in the elections.


But some still distrust the system - saying vote by mail is rife for fraud.


ACLU of Delaware Executive Director Mike Brickner assures voters that vote by mail has been in place for many other states without issue.


“There’s so many checks and balances within the election system that are in place for vote by mail. Same as if you vote in person; That you need to provide certain documentation, that you have to be a registered voter, that the department of elections checks through multiple different fields to make sure that what the person has submitted is accurate. And so, again it’s a very secure system.”


Brickner concedes it will  take time to build trust in the vote-by-mail system, and that trust can’t be built until the system is already in place and shown to be working.


The rise of vote-by-mail during the COVID-19 pandemic and the increase in turnout in elections is pushing lawmakers to consider making vote-by-mail a permanent establishment in the First State.


State Senate President Pro Temp David McBride (D-Hawk's Nest) says a permanent vote-by-mail system should be on the agenda next year.


“We didn’t wanna make it permanent this year, see because we're doing virtual meetings. We wanted to get through this year because of COVID and so forth,” he said. “But I believe strongly, and I think I speak for a lot of legislators, that Delaware should have a permanent vote-by-mail process.”


The temporary legislation allowing vote-by-mail in the elections this year passed along party lines in the House - but it had more support in the Senate.


McBride thinks some of the pushback by Republican legislators is due to comments made by President Trump attacking vote-by-mail.


He says the system in place by the Delaware Department of Elections is secure and designed to prevent fraud.


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

Roman Battaglia grew up in Portland, Ore, and now reports for Delaware Public Media as a Report For America corps member. He focuses on politics, elections and legislation activity at the local, county and state levels.
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