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Delaware GOP vote-by-mail lawsuit gets its day in court


The Delaware GOP’s lawsuit seeking to stop vote-by-mail in the upcoming general election got a hearing in Chancery Court Thursday.


The hearing lasted about an hour.  Julia Klein, the attorney for the GOP, based her argument on concerns that 1,200 people sent their mail-in ballots late or filled them out incorrectly during this month’s primary.


Vice-Chancellor Sam Glasscock viewed that argument skeptically.


“That was the irony I referred to: that an argument that this vote by mail law would result in disenfranchisement has to be remedied by spoiling ballots that are being cast in good faith by citizens,” Glasscock said.


Glasscock added he needs to weigh the potentially hundreds of thousands of Delawareans that may not vote if the vote-by-mail system is scrapped against a little more than a thousand that don’t understand how the system works.


Attorney General Kathy Jennings, representing the state, focused on that point, arguing vote-by-mail is needed to ensure those who prefer not to vote in person can do so safely without significant risk of COVID-19 exposure.


Klein also claimed that because no regular polling places are closing because of the pandemic, the state legislature had no right to invoke emergency powers to create vote-by-mail.


Jennings disagreed.


“With respect to the constitutional challenges I believe that we have addressed them," said Jennings. "And the heart of the matter is that Article 17 expressly permits the General Assembly to exercise it’s prudential judgement to ensure the continuity of governmental operations in the period of emergency.”


Mail in ballots have not been sent yet, so there is time to prevent them from going to voters.  They are mailed starting 30 days before Election day.


Glasscock noted the need to rule quickly in this case with the election just weeks away and vote by mail applications already being mailed to voters. He committed to making a decision Monday.

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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