House Passes Viola Bill Creating Same-Day Registration for Elections

HB 105 would allow eligible Delawareans to register to vote on Election Day


DOVER – Legislation allowing Delaware residents to register to vote on Election Day passed the House Thursday.

Sponsored by House Majority Whip Rep. John Viola, House Bill 105 would make Delaware the 13th state to allow Election Day registration, which permits eligible residents to register to vote and cast their ballots on the same day. The House passed the bill 24-15.

“Our goal as a society should be to encourage more people to be part of the electoral process, not less,” said Rep. Viola, D-Newark. “Right now, we have an arbitrary deadline to register to vote of three weeks before an election. Let’s face it: Some people, often young people or those who just moved to the state, don’t think to register to vote until it’s right before the election, and by then it’s too late. Election Day registration has been around for decades and is proven to safely and effectively increase voter turnout, so it’s time for Delaware to take this step forward.”

Under HB 105, a person would be able to register to vote at his or her polling place on the day of a presidential or state primary or general or special election by showing a valid government-issued photo identification card, current utility bill, bank statement, paycheck or other government document displaying the name and address of the person registering to vote. Those are the same criteria required for a person registering to vote under current Delaware law.

If passed in the Senate, the bill would take effect October 31, 2014.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, same-day registration has existed in Maine, Minnesota and Wisconsin since the mid-1970s. Since then, several other states and the District of Columbia have adopted same-day registration, and more than a dozen other states are contemplating similar laws.