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Bill introduced to make voter registration automatic through Delaware DMV

Sophia Schmidt
Delaware Public Media

Democratic state lawmakers hope to make it easier for Delawareans to register to vote.

A bill introduced to the state Senate this week would create an automatic voter registration system through the Delaware Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV). It would let all driver’s license or  identification card applications serve as voter registration applications when the applicant shows proof of U.S. citizenship. 

Right now, Delawareans can choose to register or re-register to vote at the DMV.  But State Sen. Kyle Evans Gay (D-Talleyville), who sponsored the new bill, says requiring people to opt in is a missed opportunity. 

“Either people are too busy, they don’t understand, they think they’re already registered—there could be any number of points of confusion that could lead someone to opt out, when in fact they want to opt in to our voter registration system,” Gay said. 

The first-term lawmaker says her bill is for “all Delawareans.”

“Really this legislation is meant to set our system up for success today and success in the future,” Gay said. “In my mind, if we’re missing one potential voter, if we can improve the system and bring that person into the system and give them the ability to vote and participate, then we are doing something right. ”

People registered through the automatic system the bill would establish could opt out or affiliate with a political party through a follow-up mailer. They could also affiliate at a polling place during the next primary election after their registration. 

If passed, the bill would take effect two years after being signed by the Governor or five days after the state Election Commissioner certifies that the systems needed to implement it are functional, whichever comes first.

The bill has been assigned to the Senate Elections & Government Affairs Committee. 


Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.
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