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Politics & Government

Three election-related bills make their way through House committee

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Delaware Public Media
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For some political candidates, the challenge of balancing caring for their children and knocking on doors can be tough.

 

Some state lawmakers are looking to make campaigning easier for parents.

 

Campaign finance laws can be tricky. A candidate looking to run for office often will hold fundraisers to raise money for the obvious, such as campaign posters, advertising, and those signs you see all along the sides of the highway.

 

But some expenses can’t be covered by campaign funds, like childcare. House Sponsor, State Rep. Sherae’a Moore (D-Middletown) says the current system locks out low income people from running for office.

 

“It takes many sacrifices to run for office," she said. "It was one of mine, taking leave from my job to run my campaign full time — I had to rely on my savings to pay for child care for my son. While I was able to scrape by and make it work, so many others cannot.”

 

Moore’s bill would allow politicians to use their campaign funds to pay for childcare during the election season.

 

Wilmington City Council member Shane Darby says this would bring in more voices.

 

“So I think it’s so important that we do this because mothers, parents, fathers deserve to have a voice, at the table on a political realm, to be able to voice what their concerns are for their community, for their family, for their children. So our voices matter," Darby said.

 

But the bill doesn’t seem to have full support from House Democrats. In the house Administration committee meeting Tuesday. House speaker Pete Schwartzkopf (D-Rehoboth Beach) says this kind of allowance could create a perception of a conflict of interest, and child care is tax-deductible, which could create complications.

 

The Federal Elections Commission already allows federal candidates to use campaign funds for childcare and this bill would bring Delaware law in line with federal rulings.

 

The committee also considered two other pieces of election related legislation.

 

One bill would implement automatic voter registration at the DMV, a bill that’s already passed the Senate.

 

The second bill would move the primary date from September to the same day as the presidential primary in July.

 

The bill’s sponsor, State Rep. Stephanie Bolden (D-Wilmington) has introduced this bill three times before, and each time it’s failed to pass through the state senate, despite bipartisan support in the house.

 

Bolden says every time the bill is passed, it receives more support from legislators, and she hopes this is the year it finally passes.

 

Advocates testifying in support of the bill say moving the primary date is even more of a necessity if no-excuse absentee voting is becoming a mainstay, as it gives more time for the elections department to handle the mailing of ballots before the general election in November.

 

Bolden adds turnout in the presidential primary is often higher than the statewide primary, and combining the two would boost turnout, especially among voters who may have difficulty getting to the polls in the first place.

 

All three bills passed through the committee, and now head to the house floor for debate.

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