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Delaware Senate Democrats

Delaware Senate passes first leg of a Constitutional
Amendment to allow no-excuse absentee voting

May 4, 2023

DOVER – The Delaware Senate on Thursday passed the first leg of a Constitutional amendment that would eliminate limitations on the circumstances in which voters may cast an absentee ballot.

“Voting rights have long been central to the civil rights movement in this nation because it is only through equal access to the ballot that voters can secure their basic human rights and protect their freedoms,” said Senator Darius Brown, prime sponsor of Senate Bill 3 and chair of the Senate Elections & Government Affairs Committee.

“Yet today, one of the three voting methods allowed here in Delaware is available only to a few, and only under a handful of narrow circumstances,” he said. “Senate Bill 3 represents the first step toward lifting those restrictions and finally giving all Delaware voters the same right to a no-excuse absentee ballot that voters in 35 red and blue states across the country already enjoy.”

Senate Bill 3 would remove the limited circumstances under which the Delaware Constitution currently permits absentee voting, and allow the General Assembly to set new rules and procedures through future legislation, the only path to no-excuse absentee voting permissible under the 2022 Delaware Supreme Court case Albence v. Higgin.

SB 3 also would make clear that all absentee ballots must be accompanied by an oath or affirmation that the qualified voter is free from improper influence, as required by under Article V, Section 3 of the Delaware Constitution.

Nearly 70% of eligible voters in the United States live in a state with no-excuse absentee voting, and Delaware is currently one of the only Mid-Atlantic states that require an excuse to vote absentee. New Jersey, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington, D.C. all offer their voters a safe and secure non-excuse absentee ballot option.  

SB 3 now heads to the House for consideration.

“I teach my students that voting is one of the most fundamental, important functions of a healthy democracy, and that everyone who is eligible should have the opportunity to vote for their leaders,” said Rep. Sherae’a “Rae” Moore, SB 3’s lead House sponsor and a sixth-grade teacher. “If we truly believe that, then improving voter access should be a top priority for us. We have a lot of working Delawareans – especially in my community – and sometimes, getting to the polls in person can be extremely difficult. They deserve every opportunity to participate in our elections. That’s why I’m proud to co-sponsor this bill.”

Constitutional amendments require a two-thirds majority in each chamber of the Legislature and must pass in identical forms in consecutive General Assemblies to become law. No signature from the governor is required.