Judge strikes down Delaware vote-by-mail law

The Whole Story

Volunteer workers and voters at polling place. They are eager to cast their ballot.

(NewsNation) — A recently passed vote-by-mail law in Delaware violates the state’s constitution and won’t apply in the upcoming November election, a Chancery Court judge ruled last week.

Senate Bill 320, which Democratic lawmakers passed in June, would have allowed any voter to request a mail-in ballot without an excuse. The law would have effectively codified a temporary pandemic-era policy that allowed universal voting by mail in the 2020 election.

Vice Chancellor Nathan Cook determined the new law violated a provision in the state constitution that specifically spells out when a person is allowed to cast an absentee ballot.

who’s talking about this?

The right. Of news outlets who covered this story, about 65% lean right, according to Ground News, a NewsNation partner that measures news media bias.

  • The Blaze: Delaware judge rules Democrats’ vote-by-mail law unconstitutional and prohibits it in November
  • The Daily Caller: Mail voting law is illegal under Delaware constitution, court rules

Just 24% of outlets that reported the news lean left, according to Ground News.

is this really what happened?

In his ruling, Vice Chancellor Nathan Cook noted that the state’s absentee voting criteria is well established:

“Our Supreme Court and this court have consistently stated that those circumstances are exhaustive,” Cook wrote. “Therefore, as a trial judge, I am compelled by precedent to conclude that the vote-by-mail statute’s attempt to expand absentee voting … must be rejected.”

Vice Chancellor Nathan Cook
what’s another side of the story?

The latest decision comes in response to multiple lawsuits that were filed after the legislation passed the General Assembly in June.

Although vote by mail was found to be unconstitutional, the judge upheld the state’s new same-day voter registration law which the plaintiffs had also challenged.

A constitutional amendment would have required a two-thirds vote by each chamber in two consecutive General Assemblies. After Democratic lawmakers failed to win Republican support to amend the constitution, they moved forward with the now stuck-down vote-by-mail bill. 

For those who can’t make it to the polls, Delaware voters can still request an absentee ballot under the circumstances outlined by state law.

Thirty-five states and Washington, D.C. allow voters to cast absentee mail-in ballots without an excuse. At least eight states, including California, Colorado and Washington, conduct all elections by mail.

the bottom line

Vote-by-mail laws continue to vary from state to state and can require constitutional amendments in some cases, otherwise they risk being thrown out.

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