The Court of Chancery in Delaware, the home state of President Joe Biden, on Wednesday struck down the state’s new no-excuse mail-in voting system.
In July, Democratic Gov. John Carney signed legislation passed by Delaware’s Democratic lawmakers to allow voters without an excuse to request mail-in ballots ahead of an election. SB 320 had faced strong opposition from GOP legislators, Delaware Public Media reported.
The bill came after the provision that allowed mail-in voting in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic expired in 2021, WDEL-AM in Wilmington reported.
However, in an injunction issued Wednesday, Vice Chancellor Nathan Cook ruled that the legislation violated the state Constitution.
According to WDEL, even some Democratic lawmakers were unsure of its constitutionality.
When that question was debated in June, Democratic state House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf ended the discussion, the outlet reported.
“I don’t know whether it’s constitutional or not constitutional, and neither do you guys, or anybody else in here. The best way to get this thing done is hear this bill, move forward, and let a challenge go to the courts, and let them decide it,” Schwartzkopf said, according to WDEL.
The legislation did end up in the courts once five plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in the Court of Chancery. The plaintiffs were represented by Republican Party Chairwoman Jane Bradey and Republican Attorney General candidate Julianne Murray.
Cook ruled that based on Article V, Section 4A of Delaware’s Constitution, which lists the circumstances in which a person is permitted to use a mail-in ballot, the Democrats’ legislation was not constitutional.
“The General Assembly shall enact general laws providing that any qualified elector of this State, duly registered, who shall be unable to appear to cast his or her ballot at any general election at the regular polling place of the election district in which he or she is registered, either because of being in the public service of the United States or of this State, or his or her spouse or dependents when residing with or accompanying him or her because of the nature of his or her business or occupation, because of his or her sickness or physical disability, because of his or her absence from the district while on vacation, or because of the tenets or teachings of his or her religion, may cast a ballot at such general election to be counted in such election district,” Section 4A says.
Cook wrote in his decision that based on precedent, both the Chancery Court and the state Supreme Court have “constantly stated that those circumstances are exhaustive.”
“Therefore, as a trial judge, I am compelled by precedent to conclude that the Vote-by-Mail Statute’s attempt to expand absentee voting to Delawareans who do not align with any of Section 4A’s categories must be rejected,” he wrote.
The lawsuit filed in the Chancery Court also attempted to overthrow a same-day voter registration law that Carney signed the same day he signed SB 320 into law. It made Delaware the 22nd state to allow same-day voter registration.
On that point, Cook decided in favor of the Democrats.
He said a 1925 constitutional amendment that removed language that voter registration had to “be completed” by a certain time meant same-day registration was not unconstitutional.
The court’s decisions directly affect the November midterm elections in Delaware. The state’s Department of Elections has been preparing mail ballots to be delivered to voters by the beginning of October.
While no-excuse mail-in voting is no longer permitted, residents who cannot go to the polls in person are still allowed to request absentee ballots, WDEL reported.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.
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