Three Democrats – Rep. Earl Jaques, D-Glasgow, Rep. John Kowalko, D-Newark South, and Rep. Dennis E. Williams, D-Talleyville – introduced legislation designed to increase participation in elections Jan. 17. House Bill 20 would extend absentee voting to all eligible Delaware voters by removing requirements that limit who can vote absentee. Under current law, absentee voting is allowed only for residents who are physically unable to make it to their polling place on Election Day. HB 20 is the first leg of a constitutional amendment. If this bill passes the General Assembly during this two-year session, an identical version must pass the 148th General Assembly, which begins in 2015.
“We teach our children that voting is a fundamental component of our democracy. This is an excellent way to live that principle – by increasing access to voting for all Delawareans,” Jaques said. “A single parent working two jobs doesn’t necessarily get Election Day off and might not be able to spend an hour waiting at the polls. Allowing any Delawarean to request an absentee ballot gives everyone an equal opportunity to have their voice heard.”
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least 27 states and Washington, D.C., already have no-excuse absentee voting. Neighboring states New Jersey and Maryland are among those states. HB 20 awaits a hearing in the House Administration Committee.