Governor signs early voting legislation into law

New law seeks to increase participation by allowing early, in-person voting

On Sunday, June 30, the final day of the 2019 legislative session, Gov. John Carney signed legislation into law that seeks to increase voter participation in Delaware elections by allowing early, in-person voting.

House Bill 38, sponsored by state Rep. David Bentz, will allow registered Delaware voters to cast their ballots at polling places up to 10 days before Election Day. The measure is designed to make it easier for all Delawareans to participate in elections.

“Voting is our most fundamental right as Delawareans and Americans,” said Carney. “Regardless of ZIP code or party affiliation, we should make it easier for all Delawareans to cast their ballots, choose their elected officials and participate in our democratic process. Thank you to Rep. Bentz and other members of the General Assembly for their continued partnership, and for their leadership on this issue.”

“Voting is a fundamental part of our society. We should be doing everything in our power to make it easier for working Delawareans across the state to vote in our elections, because when everyone participates, we all stand to do better,” said Bentz. “Early voting reduces stress on the voting system, creates shorter lines on Election Day and increases access to voting, as well as voter satisfaction. This new law will help increase voter turnout in our elections, which should always be a common goal.”

“One of our top priorities this year was to enact meaningful election reform in Delaware, and this is one of the bills that I’m most proud of,” said Senate Majority Leader Nicole Poore. “Right now, participating in the electoral process — the activity that supports our whole system of government — is limited to 13 hours on one day, every two years, and you absolutely have to be there in person or request an absentee ballot. We should be doing all we can to make voting easier, and with this legislation Delaware takes a major step forward in that effort.”

“Families today face a number of demands, such as juggling childcare demands and simply trying to make ends meet,” said Senate co-prime sponsor Sen. Bryan Townsend. “Thirty-five states, both red and blue, have recognized that fact and extended their voting periods to multiple days. We owe it to Delaware voters to make participating in democracy easier, and I’m proud of my colleagues for coming together to support this important step.”

“By extending the voting period, we’re not only making it easier to cast a ballot but ensuring we have fairer elections in Delaware,” said fellow co-prime Sen. Stephanie Hansen. “This measure will reduce lines at the polls. It will allow more time to discover and correct any issues with our new voting system. And it will make casting ballots easier and more convenient for the people we were elected to serve. That’s why 50 lawmakers — both Democrats and Republicans — voted to pass this measure, and it’s why it was signed into law today.”