Vote by mail

Mail-in voting lawsuits set for court hearing Wednesday

Charlie MegginsonGovernment, Headlines

Mail-in voting

Two lawsuits challenging Delaware’s mail-in voting system will be the subject of a hearing in the Delaware Court of Chancery Wednesday. 

The suits were brought on behalf of numerous plaintiffs by GOP chair Jane Brady and Republican candidate for attorney general Julianne Murray.

Brady and Murray are representing the plaintiffs in their capacities as private attorneys — not on behalf of the Republican Party of Delaware.

Election Commissioner Anthony Albence and the Department of Elections are named as defendants in the suits, both of which will be heard at the same time because they address the same issue.

Vice Chancellor Nathan Cook will hear oral arguments on both sides’ motions for summary judgment. A motion for summary judgment asks the court for a judgment on the merits of the case before the trial. 

According to the American Bar Association, a motion for summary judgment is properly made where there is no dispute about the facts of a case and only a question of law needs to be decided.

Both lawsuits say mail-in voting violates the Delaware Constitution, which offers a limited set of reasons a person may cast an absentee ballot. 

The alternative voting method was adopted this year after the General Assembly passed Senate Bill 320. The bill created an opt-in vote-by-mail system wherein voters have to request a ballot before one is sent. Ballots and ballot applications will never be automatically mailed to voters under the bill.

Supporters in the legislature said mail-in voting is not the same as absentee voting, and the Constitution grants the General Assembly the authority to “prescribe the means, methods and instruments of voting so as best to secure secrecy and the independence of the voter, preserve the freedom and purity of elections and prevent fraud, corruption and intimidation…”

During the bill’s Senate hearing, Sen. Colin Bonini, R-Dover, successfully attached an amendment to the bill that requires absentee voters to provide a form of identification — either the last four digits of their driver’s license or last four digits of their social security number.

If Cook grants the Department of Elections’ motion for summary judgment, Murray said she would likely appeal to the Supreme Court of Delaware. She thinks the Department of Elections would do the same in the inverse scenario.

Earlier this month, Cook denied Brady’s motion for a temporary restraining order aimed at stopping mail-in voting before the upcoming election. 

The Department of Elections has already publicly distributed information pertaining to the new voting method. 

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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