Proposed bills in Delaware could open absentee voting to all, tighten up process security
DELAWARE – One Delaware lawmaker is hoping to make changes to how absentee voting works.
Absentee Voting For All
Representative Bryan Shupe is announcing two bills he’ll be introducing in the House. House Bills 361 and 362 would eliminate the required reasons for absentee voting. This means that anyone can vote via absentee ballot. “I think that the more people that you can get out to vote and voice their opinion, the better the government that you have, the more responsive government that you will have, as well,” said Rep. Shupe.
The bills would also help make the absentee ballot process more secure, according to Rep. Shupe. Voters would be required to identify themselves with a Delaware ID, drivers license, or social security number. “The Department of Elections will check those numbers, and they will call you or reach out to you to verify that information before the vote is counted,” said Rep. Shupe.
Changes could also be coming to how legislators alter election law, if the bills pass. Rep. Shupe says under the bills, a two thirds majority vote would be required across two consecutive sessions, instead of a simple majority vote. “We would like for any new election laws to have to go through a two thirds vote, and not just be a simple majority vote that possibly could change with a political party,” he said.
The bills’ features are different from how absentee voting currently works in Delaware. The reasons for absentee voting are restricted to a select group of people. “If you’re in public service with the U.S. or state government, the nature of your business took you outside of the state for some reason, if you’re sick temporarily or disabled,” said Director of the Sussex County Department of Elections, Bo McDowell.
Plus, voters are the ones tasked with the responsibility of proving their identities. “Delaware is a self affirm state. So, basically you would have to affirm, under the penalty of perjury, that you are who you say you are, and you are voting for the reason you’re saying,” said McDowell.
According to McDowell, in the past three elections, absentee voting saw a significant spike. “It was probably as much as three times the amount of people that usually voted absentee in the past,” he said.
That’s why Rep. Shupe says these changes need to come sooner than later. “I think he vast majority of people who I talk with really want absentee voting. They also want it to be secure. I think this is the only way to do that: by having open dialogue,” he said. “I’m hoping that, above and beyond absentee voting, that this brings people to see that dialogue is really the place that we need to go.”
Looking ahead, Rep. Shupe says he plans to meet with Representative David Bentz. They will discuss how to open absentee voting permanently for those living with disabilities.