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House fails to pass no-excuse and permanent mail-in voting, early voting constitutional amendment

Delaware Legislative Hall in Dover.
Roman Battaglia
Delaware Public Media
Delaware Legislative Hall in Dover.

An effort to constitutionalize no-excuse and permanent absentee voting, as well as early voting, failed to pass in the Delaware House.

In 2022, Delaware’s Supreme Court ruled no-excuse mail-in voting to be unconstitutional, and earlier this year, Superior Court struck down permanent absentee voting and early voting.

The latter ruling was appealed to the state’s Supreme Court, which recently heard arguments, but Democratic lawmakers are pushing forward with an attempt to add all three voting procedures to Delaware’s Constitution.

House Minority Whip Lyndon Yearick (R- Magnolia) explains several of his Republican colleagues would opt not to vote on the constitutional amendment in order to wait for the Supreme Court’s ruling.

“We feel it’s rather disingenuous to disallow that — we want the court decision to happen first and foremost. It may make this completely a moot point. They may overturn the Superior Court [decision] and say what was initially voted on is going to come back into play," he said.

Yearick also expressed disappointment with combining early voting and absentee voting in the constitutional amendment, saying they should be considered separately.

Republicans have introduced their own constitutional amendment that would only enshrine early voting rights — that amendment has yet to be considered by the General Assembly.

The Democratic-endorsed amendment’s sponsor, State Rep. Sherae’a Moore (D-Middletown), says acting on all three voting procedures now is appropriate.

“As we sit and we wait for the pending decision, we still have the responsibility to our constituents and making sure that we’re doing something because the court decision came because this wasn’t in our constitution," she said.

While the amendment failed to receive a two-thirds majority vote, House Majority Leader Melissa Minor-Brown (D-Bear) changed her vote from yes to no — a procedure that now allows her to bring the bill back for consideration within three legislative days.

House Speaker Valerie Longhurst (D-Bear) used the same procedure when the General Assembly tried to pass the second leg of a constitutional amendment to legalize no-excuse mail-in voting in 2021.

You can find a story detailing the timeline of recent court cases and voting procedure laws here.

Before residing in Dover, Delaware, Sarah Petrowich moved around the country with her family, spending eight years in Fairbanks, Alaska, 10 years in Carbondale, Illinois and four years in Indianapolis, Indiana. She graduated from the University of Missouri in 2023 with a dual degree in Journalism and Political Science.
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