Last night in Higgin and Mennella v. Albence, Vice Chancellor Nathan Cook ruled that Delaware’s recently enacted Vote by Mail law is unconstitutional, while upholding same-day voter registration. Consequently, unless the Supreme Court overrules this decision, First State voters will not be able to vote from home in the general election this November.
Statement from Common Cause Delaware Executive Director Claire Snyder-Hall
While we are thrilled that Vice Chancellor Cook upheld same-day voter registration, we are deeply disappointed that he believes Vote by Mail is unconstitutional.
When you read the Delaware Constitution, Article V section 1 clearly states that “the General Assembly has the authority to prescribe the means, methods and instruments of voting,” and that is exactly what they did when they passed the Vote by Mail bill last June.
It is vital to note that Vote by Mail is not the same as absentee voting. Article V section 4 says that voters who are “unable to appear” are entitled to vote by absentee ballot. But People who choose to vote by mail are not “unable to appear.” They just prefer to vote safely and securely from home.
We support Vote by Mail because it allows our neighbors to cast their ballots safely and securely from home, which is especially important for those working essential jobs, like our nurses and firefighters, and others who have work schedules that make it difficult to vote, when voting is just on one designated day.
Vote by Mail strengthens democracy by making the ballot more accessible and increasing voter turnout.
Towards the end of the decision, the Vice Chancellor Cook concedes, “Although I am compelled by Delaware precedent to find that Plaintiffs have demonstrated actual success on the merits as to the Vote-by-Mail Statute, I believe the Delaware Supreme Court may conclude that it has grounds to revisit that precedent.”
On that point, we fully agree, and we hope the Delaware Supreme Court overrules this decision decisively on appeal. But no matter what happens, Common Cause Delaware will be there to help voters cast their ballots in November.