Lagging behind much of the nation, Delaware legislators eye adding early voting in coming election cycles
GEORGETOWN, Del. – For voters in states like Maryland, they have the ability to head to the polls early, casting their ballots in person at their designated polling place. Those early birds will not have to worry about standing in line this coming Tuesday.
In Delaware, voters can cast absentee ballots, but unlike 37 other states, plus the District of Columbia, they can’t head to their polling place early to make their picks. But that soon might change.
Legislators like Democratic House Speaker Peter Schwartzkopf wants the law to change as soon as possible, listing reasons why early voting would be a good thing for voters.
“Trips come up, quick notice. One day notice, they don’t have time to get an absentee ballot, they’d be able to go over and vote if they had it. If we had a storm coming through, and everybody saw there was going to be a northeast storm on election day they could go over two, three days ahead of time.”
Earlier this year, House Bill 90, that would establish early voting in Delaware, passed the house on party lines before dying in the Senate.
Representative Ruth Briggs-King, from District 37, was the lone house member to abstain from voting on HB 90.
She withheld her vote due to an amendment added on at the end of the process, but says the potential for voter fraud kept her Republican colleagues from voting yes.
“As long as we know the process is secure. And I think that’s a lot of my colleagues concerns.”
That’s an argument Speaker Schwartzkopf challenges, asking ‘where’s the fraud.’
“My question to them is where is the fraud. How many people have been arrested in Delaware in the last ten years for election fraud.”
Though there’s no voting here in the State of Delaware, officials tell us the rules have evolved over the years for absentee ballots, in an effort to increase voter turnout and make it easier for voters ahead of Election Day.
“Now we take notary off all of it. Because it’s harder and harder to get notaries and costs people money to get notaries,” said Kenneth McDowell, the director for the Sussex County Department of Elections.
Both Schwartzkopf and Briggs-King agreed, early voting may be coming to Delaware as early as 2020.
“I think it’s certainly time, this day and age with technology, the way people are so much more mobile, that we do look at how we do election process,” said Briggs-King.
If you are a Delaware resident and wish to send in an absentee ballot, you can still order one up until the day before the Election.
They will be accepted no later than 8 PM on Tuesday. Or you can visit one of Delaware’s 73 polling places on Election Day, polls are open from 7 AM until they close at 8 PM.