Delaware Voting Rights Coalition

Who We Are

We are Delaware's first statewide coalition of voting rights organizations and advocates. Under the umbrella of the Delaware Voting Rights Coalition, we are advocates encouraging voters and policy makers to consider reforms that will improve access to voting. We empower communities, especially communities of color, people who speak English as a second language, people involved in the justice system, and young people, to identify and remedy barriers to the ballot box. We are ready to work with legislators, local election officials, and the Department of Elections to make these reform recommendations a reality.

Our Member Organizations Include

What We Support 

We want to ensure that everyone who has the right to vote can exercise that right in a meaningful, transparent, safe, and secure manner. We support reforms that broaden access for all eligible voters to register and cast their ballots. Specifically, we support reforms that: 

  • Extend the voter registration deadline through election day
  • Ensure that all registered voters are able to cast a mail ballot 
    • Make ballots widely accessible and easily returnable in each Delaware House District
    • Create a reliable process for a voter easily to track her/his ballot cast by mail and to correct any ballot rejection
  • Educate all eligible voters about the option to cast a mail or early vote ballot
    • All voter information should be available in multiple languages

Voting Rights Agenda 

The coalition believes that implementing the recommendations outlined in this Voting Rights Agenda will strengthen our democracy and ensure that every eligible voter can participate in multiple ways that makes their ability to vote in the most convenient and practicable way.

Same-Day Registration

Q.Same-Day Registration
A.

Delaware should make same-day registration available at all polling places, including early-voting locations, with only the same proof of residency required of voters who register in advance.

Same-Day Registration (SDR) eliminates the need for advance registration by permitting an eligible voter to register and cast a ballot at the same time on Election Day or during an early voting period. By combining registration and voting, same-day registration streamlines the voting process, eases the burden on voters, and increases voter participation.

Delaware currently makes voters register 25 days before an election, one of the longest deadlines allowed by federal law.  It’s past time to modernize Delaware’s voter registration system and remove unnecessary barriers to voting. Currently, 21 other states permit some form of same-day registration. 

States with SDR experience, on average, a 5-percent increase in voter participation and consistently have the highest participation in the country; for Delaware, this could mean an additional 22,259 voters. 

SDR Increases access of historically underrepresented groups: 

  • Those who are transient and need to update their address more frequently 
  • Students and other young people
  • Low-income voters
  • People involved in the penal system
  • Infrequent voters
  • First-time voters

Constitutional Amendment re: Absentee Voting

Q.Constitutional Amendment re: Absentee Voting
A.

The Coalition strongly supports amending the Delaware Constitution such that the General Assembly may further enact laws providing for broader access to vote by absentee or mail ballot. When we make voting more accessible, more people participate. For example, last year, when the General Assembly expanded access to absentee ballots in response to the COVID-19 crisis, Delaware saw over a 15% increase in voter participation as compared to 2016. 

A Constitutional amendment makes sense. Safe and secure absentee voting has existed for nearly 80 years in Delaware—our elections officials know how to ensure that every registered voter’s ballot counts, whether cast in-person, by mail, or at early vote locations. 
 

Vote-by-Mail

Q.Vote-by-Mail
A.

The Coalition supports a vote-by-mail ballot framework that is clear and accessible for all Delaware voters. The Coalition supports making vote-by-mail ballots a permanent voting method available to all Delawareans. During the 2020 election, over a half-million Delawareans voted — many by absentee and mail ballots because they were granted temporary eligibility to vote by mail due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 34 other states have permanent universal vote-by-mail eligibility.  

The benefits to vote-by-mail are plentiful:

  • Allows voters to take time to study the issues and candidates on their ballot and get questions answered
  • Decreases the number of people voting in-person at polling locations, potentially avoiding long lines and wait times on Election Day
  • Lowers costs due to needing fewer staff and traditional polling places 
  • Maximizes the chance that elections may endure despite whatever unexpected threat emerges, including, but not limited to, another pandemic

Once available, the Delaware Department of Elections should aggressively educate all eligible and registered voters about how to cast vote-by-mail ballots and make applications widely available, easily returnable, and correctable. The Coalition recommends:

  • Prepaid postage on returnable envelopes to return vote-by-mail applications and ballots 
  • Secure drop-boxes widely available in each of Delaware’s House Districts 
  • Phone and online voter-assistance hotlines in the predominant languages spoken in Delaware
  • A formal process to notify any voter before their mail ballot is rejected so that they are provided the opportunity to correct any errors in a timely manner.