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Politics & Government

GOP lawmakers propose slate of elections bills

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Delaware Public Media
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Republican state lawmakers unveil a package of bills seeking to change voter ID laws and reform the election system as a whole.

 

The package of bills are mostly aimed at discouraging voter fraud, according to House Minority Leader Danny Short (R-Seaford).

 

Short says these bills aren’t a reaction to any actual cases of voter fraud seen in the First State.

“We’re just saying we need to tighten it up, make it more reasonable — and try to make sure that things are done so that people have confidence in the system,” Short said.

 

One bill would increase the penalty for voter fraud in the state, making it a felony and stripping the person of their right to vote for five years.

 

Two of the bills would tighten voter ID requirements, both in person and voting absentee.

 

Short says the bills offer enough ID options that most people will have no problem at the polls.

 

“So we’re not denying anyone we’re saying the consistency that we’re trying to develop here,” he said. “That’s why we made it what I think is pretty all inclusive — and then if you don’t have any of those we put the groundwork there for the provisional ballot and the department can check that after the fact and the vote can be counted after it’s legitimized.”

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Credit Delaware General Assembly
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House Minority Leader Danny Short

 

Voters do not currently need to present a photo ID at the polls, and can sign an affidavit instead. This bill would remove that option, and require a voter without ID to use a provisional ballot that the Department of Elections would verify after the polls close.

 

Twenty other states currently require a photo ID to be able to vote.

 

Short says these bills were not inspired by similar election bills passed in a few southern states, but by almost identical bills introduced in the Maryland legislature in February.

 

Delaware hasn’t had an issue with voter fraud, and elections commissioner Anthony Albence has said there are safeguards in place to prevent fraud from happening in person and through absentee voting.

 

According to a Heritage Foundation report, there have been no cases of election fraud in Delaware for 40 years.

 

The last two resolutions call for examining the voter registration system for improvements, and reviewing the signature verification system for absentee ballots.

 

Short expects strong pushback from Democrats, but encourages people to read the bills before drawing a conclusion. The bills currently have no Democratic support.

 

Senate majority communications director Scott Goss says his caucus won't comment on legislation until it's filed. The bills are being circulated this week to garner support and comments, according to Short.