In era of hyper-partisanship, Delaware considers bipartisan bill that eliminates barriers to voting

Common Cause Delaware Supports Legislation Allowing Delawareans to Register Only Once to Vote

This week the Delaware General Assembly began considering a bipartisan bill that would eliminate the double registration requirement for municipal elections.

Of the 57 municipalities in Delaware, only 17 use the state’s Voter Registration System to determine eligibility to vote in local elections. Residents of other municipalities must register separately with the municipality before voting in a local election.

Senate Bill 233 would require all municipalities to use the state’s system as its source of registration information for resident voters. Separate municipal voter registration requirements would still apply to nonresident voters, as those voters would not be included in the State’s Voter Registration System.

The original version of the bill, HB 146, was introduced in the House by Republican Bryan Shupe. The Senate version being considered this week was introduced by Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Lockman. Common Cause Delaware supports the bill and applauds legislators working across the aisle to eliminate barriers to voting.

Testimony of Common Cause Delaware Executive Director Claire Snyder-Hall

Since the 2020 election, anti-voter extremists have been mobilizing all over the country to erect barriers to voting, but that has not happened here in Delaware. Indeed in some respects, the First State is moving in the opposite direction. For example, we passed automatic voter registration last year with bipartisan support.

Common Cause Delaware applauds the introduction of SB 233, a bipartisan bill that would remove barriers to voting. That is, the bill would eliminate the unnecessary and redundant requirement in over 40 Delaware municipalities that voters register separately for municipal elections. It is our position that people registered to vote in Delaware should not have to register twice to have their voices heard in local elections.

Unless a person has been explicitly informed about the double registration requirement, any reasonable person would expect that being registered to vote with the state of Delaware would qualify them to vote in their own town’s election. That person would likely be shocked to discover the opposite, when arriving to vote in a municipal election. And by then it would be too late to register.

That double registration requirement is an excellent example of a barrier to voting. Since we believe that people should have the freedom to vote regardless of zip code, we urge the committee to approve this bill and hope it will get a speedy hearing on the Senate floor.

Download the testimony here.