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Delaware

Delaware has opportunities in several issue areas to codify temporary 2020 policies and implement voter-centric reforms. The State can continue to strengthen its election system by making no-excuse absentee voting, drop boxes, and extended ballot processing time permanent. Additionally, we suggest adding signature verification and risk-limiting audits to improve the security of the election process and improving ballot tracking and adding a cure process to decrease rejection rates and increase voter confidence.

As of 2021....

No Excuse Required

No Excuse Required

No excuse to vote by mail

Online Mail Ballot Application

Online Mail Ballot Application

Apply for mail ballot online

Robust Ballot Return Option

Robust Ballot Return Option

U.S. mail, drop boxes, vote centers, and more

Prepaid Postage

Prepaid Postage

Postage-paid return envelopes provided

Election Day Postmark Acceptance

Election Day Postmark Acceptance

Accepts ballots postmarked by Election Day

Ballot Tracking

Ballot Tracking

Online method to check ballot status

Signature Verification

Signature Verification

Voter signature verified before ballot is counted

Cure Process

Cure Process

Ability to correct issues so ballot can be counted

Preprocessing

Preprocessing

Election official may process ballot before Election Day

Opportunities

Delaware should continue their enormous progress in expanding mail voting, despite constitutional barriers. By passing a second leg amendment, Delaware can give their citizens the opportunity to vote in whichever manner they find safest and most convenient.
Delaware’s expansion of pre-processing time for ballots from 4 days to 30 days gave the State the edge it needed to deliver results in a much timelier manner after the election than many other states. In order to maintain this track record and allow citizens to learn the results of their elections as quickly as possible, Delaware should make these timelines permanent.
Delaware implemented drop boxes at county offices as a result of the pandemic; however, the State should make these return options permanent fixtures for all future elections. We also recommend allowing for ballots to be received at polling or vote centers, drop boxes, and other locations deemed necessary by the clerk.
As use of absentee ballots increases, it is important to make sure that the ballots received are being filled out by the individuals they were sent to. Signature verification procedures ensure the security of the election process while also streamlining ballot processing.
Ballot tracking software such as Ballot Scout or Ballot TRACE can be a very cost effective tool to improve Delaware’s current ballot tracking. An expanded notification system helps keep rejection rates low and increases voter confidence and participation.
In the event that a voter’s ballot is rejected, said voter should have the ability to cure their ballot quickly and simply. We recommend implementing a Text2Cure system that allows voters to cure their ballots from their phones. Delaware can implement this system in conjunction with improvements to its ballot tracking system.
Accepting ballots with Election Day postmarks is a best practice to ensure that voters are given all options to vote their ballot in a timely manner. Current law allows for ballots to be requested up to 3 days before the election, and that is most likely too short of a timespan for a ballot to be mailed and then be returned by mail by close of polls. Accepting Election Day postmarks is estimated in most jurisdictions to decrease ballot rejection rates by half.
Delaware can reduce costs and increase voter convenience by expanding its permanent absentee voting list, which allows voters to sign up to automatically be sent an absentee ballot for each election without having to re-apply. Expanding Delaware’s permanent absentee option to all residents would save the state significant expenses by cutting down on the requests it needs to process.

Recent Legislation

As of June 5, 2021

Delaware started 2020 in a tough position, given its Constitution’s strict provisions on who can qualify to vote absentee. To give Delawareans a safe option, HB 346 temporarily created a new type of ballot, “mail ballots”, which allowed any citizen to vote by mail in 2020, as well as other adjustments, like providing prepaid postage and extending preprocessing to ensure timely results. In response to the pandemic, the state also sent all voters applications to receive these mail ballots.

In 2021, Delaware should permanently dismantle these barriers to no-excuse absentee voting in 2021; the State is already halfway there after passing HB 73, the first leg of a constitutional amendment to allow no-excuse absentee voting. By passing the second leg of an amendment in its current session, Delaware can codify this practice. The state has already made some great improvements, passing SB 5 to implement automatic voter registration.