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Second lawsuit filed against Delaware's vote-by-mail statute

Sophia Schmidt
Delaware Public Media

Delaware Attorney General candidate Julianne Murray filed a lawsuit challenging Delaware’s vote-by-mail statute last week – the second legal challenge to the law since Governor Carney signed it into law last month.

The first lawsuit, filed by state GOP party chair Jane Brady, was filed just after Gov. John Carney signed the measure into law last month; Brady’s lawsuit also challenges the state’s new same-day voter registration law.

Political activist Nick Miles – one of three plaintiffs in the latest lawsuit – argues that voting by mail is identical to no-excuse absentee voting, which isn’t currently permitted by Delaware’s Constitution; the constitution sets rules for absentee voting. After earlier attempts failed to amend the state constitution to allow no-excuse absentee voting, Miles says that state lawmakers passed the vote-by-mail bill to skirt the constitutional amendment process, leaving Delaware’s courts to decide on the legality of the move.

“In all honesty, I think that’s a disrespectful way to treat our court system," he said. "If you know that what you’re doing is unconstitutional and you’re just going to let the courts figure it out, it’s a waste of time for the courts and for the citizens who are concerned by you passing this without going through the proper procedure.”

Miles argues that the latest lawsuit is non-partisan; he and his two fellow plaintiffs come from across the partisan spectrum.

But the lawsuits are unlikely to reach a conclusion before the September primaries: the first opportunity for Delawareans to make use of the new vote-by-mail statute.

Paul Kiefer comes to Delaware from Seattle, where he covered policing, prisons and public safety for the local news site PubliCola.