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Politics & Government

Election reform a divisive issue in state legislature

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Roman Battaglia
/
Delaware Public Media

State lawmakers on both sides of the aisle can’t seem to agree on election bills, despite having done so before.

Earlier last week, State Senators heard one of a package of bills from Republican lawmakers seeking to overhaul the state’s election system.

 

Senate Concurrent Resolution seven would create a task force to review laws and practices surrounding Delaware’s voter registration system, and propose new bills if any improvements are needed.

 

But the resolution failed to gain traction among senate Democrats. State Sen. Kyle Evans Gay (D-Talleyville) is the chair of the Senate Elections Committee.

 

She says the task force would be redundant.

 

“So much of this work is being done already, it’s part of continual improvement in a system that we as a state have invested in. And that includes new ways to ensure that data is sound,” Evans Gay said.

 

Evans Gay says this task force would be seeking solutions to a problem that doesn’t exist in Delaware, the issue of voter fraud. 

 

Delaware hasn’t had a verifiable case of voter fraud in the last 40 years.

 

State Sen. Colin Bonini (R-Dover South) says his Democratic colleagues keep claiming the system is safe and secure.

 

“So I think the idea is somehow we have a pristine, snow white process — I just think, I just disagree,” he said.

 

He says there are cracks in the system that can lend themselves to fraud and need to be examined.

 

Evans Gay says the Department of Elections is already looking at those cracks, hence the redundancy of a task force.

 

She also highlights a common mistake her GOP colleagues make about voting by mail: the difference between applications and ballots.

 

She says Republicans often claim thousands of ballots are sent to the wrong address, when in most cases they are likely absentee ballot applications, which don’t lend themselves to fraud.

 

Senate Democrats and Republicans were split along party lines in the vote, echoing a similar vote later in the week against a constitutional amendment to allow no-excuse absentee voting. That amendment was agreed on almost unanimously just 2 years prior.

 

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

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