Media Contact

Casira Copes, Communications Director

June 28, 2024

WILMINGTON, DE — Today, June 28, the Delaware Supreme Court reversed a decision of the Delaware Superior Court that had found Delaware's early and permanent absentee voting laws unconstitutional. 

In February, the Superior Court ruled that Delaware’s laws allowing early in-person voting and permanent absentee status violated the State’s constitution and invalidated these laws. The loss of in-person and permanent absentee status had the potential to limit voting accessibility for eligible voters statewide, despite both laws having been relied upon by tens of thousands of Delaware voters in recent elections.  

Today, the Delaware Supreme Court reversed the Superior Court, finding that those who challenged the law were not sufficiently harmed by the laws and therefore could not challenge the laws in court. While this reversal provides certainty and maintains voting access for early in-person voters and permanent absentee voters in 2024, it allows future challenges to Delaware’s early and permanent absentee voting laws. 

 “The Delaware Supreme Court’s decision to reverse the opinion of the Superior Court temporarily protects thousands of voters, particularly those historically disenfranchised, who will be able to cast their ballots freely and fairly in 2024,” said Andrew Bernstein, Cozen Voting Rights Fellow at ACLU-DE. “However, we are disappointed that the Delaware Supreme Court was unable to rule on the merits of the laws. Simply put, this is a Band-Aid, not a more comprehensive vindication of our methods of exercising our most fundamental right.”  

Researchers have found that offering extra days of early voting generally increases voter turnout, with as many as 56,000 voters in Delaware who have utilized early voting. Delaware now joins most states in the country in allowing early in-person voting.  

About 21,000 voters used permanent absentee ballots in the last election. The longstanding permanent absentee option for voting makes voting more accessible for a large portion of the state’s population, from those who are disabled or in long-term care, to those service members who reside abroad defending our nation’s freedoms.  

“These laws remain vulnerable. We know anti-democratic interests will continue to challenge laws that expand access to the ballot. Therefore, the ACLU of Delaware remains committed to ensuring that Delaware’s constitution advances our most fundamental right for every eligible voter to have their voice heard at the ballot box, which is why we launched the Every Vote Counts campaign, a long-term constitutional amendment campaign to ensure ALL Delawareans the right to vote,” said Bernstein.