New Measure Would Allow Delaware Residents to Vote-by-Mail

DOVER – In an ongoing effort to increase access to voting, lawmakers unveiled a proposal Wednesday to allow Delaware residents to cast their ballots in elections without having to leave their home.

Sponsored by Rep. Gerald Brady, House Bill 175 would allow voters to vote by mail in primary, general or special elections beginning in 2022. This would be in addition to existing in-person and absentee voting options for residents. It would not replace the current voting methods, but supplement them with this option.

“Voting is one of the most important duties we have as citizens of our state and country. But limiting voting to one 13-hour period in person at a polling place limits people’s ability to cast their ballots,” said Rep. Brady, D-Wilmington West. “I served our country in the military to protect every person’s rights, including the right to vote. And I believe that we should be doing everything in our power to ensure that as many people have the opportunity to vote.

“Adding vote-by-mail gives Delaware residents one more option when deciding how to cast their vote. By giving residents a menu of options, we will increase participation in our elections and in our governance, which is what we should always strive for.”

Under HB 175, the state elections commission would administer the vote-by-mail program, creating rule and regulations for the effort. Ballots would be processed and scanned ahead of Election Day but not be tabulated until Election Day. Ballots could be mailed in, dropped off at any polling place on Election Day, or dropped off in a secure drop box at each county elections office before Election Day.

Studies show that states that offer vote-by-mail have higher turnout, which is beneficial for both residents and government on the whole. Adopting vote-by-mail would provide a convenient, financially responsible, proven method of casting ballots. Voters would be able to review their ballot and research their decisions before ultimately voting.

More than 20 states have provisions allowing certain elections to be conducted entirely by mail, while three of the states (Colorado, Oregon and Washington) have all-mail elections. Some states, such as Hawaii and Utah, are transitioning toward all-mail elections.

HB 175 will be included in Thursday’s House pre-file.