The U.S. Constitution is being examined in Delaware, the state where Biden was born and raised, due to a dispute over voting procedures.
According to the constitution, a person is permitted to cast an absentee ballot if their public service, business, or occupation prevents them from going to the polls on Election Day. Couples and dependents who reside with or travel with those individuals are also eligible to cast an absentee ballot. The other allowances are for sickness or physical incapacity, vacation, and religious principles or beliefs.
Voting by mail, according to the attorney general’s office, is not absentee voting. However, it also argued that the General Assembly is not prohibited from permitting widespread voting by mail because of the constitution’s absentee voting provision.
However, lawmakers explicitly acknowledged that the list of constitutional justifications for absentee voting is “exhaustive” in 2020 when they used their emergency powers to allow universal voting by mail that year due to the coronavirus pandemic. This means that no other justifications are allowed. They also accepted that, unless doing so would be “impracticable” or result in excessive delay, they must follow the constitution when using their emergency powers. They then stated that it would be “impracticable” to comply with the constitution’s absentee voting clause.
According to the constitution, a general election’s voter registration period cannot start more than 120 days, or less than 60 days, before the election. Additionally, it cannot expire less than 10 days or more than 20 days prior to the election.
This was brought to a head in Delaware last month when Vice Chancellor Nathan Cook said the vote-by-mail law, which was the result of legislation Democrats rammed through the General Assembly in less than three weeks, violates constitutional restrictions on absentee voting. Cook upheld the same-day registration law, however. Both legislation were approved in June with exactly one Republican vote for each, and Democratic Governor John Carney signed them into law in July.
Attorney General Kathleen Jennings of the Democratic Party appealed Cook’s decision invalidating the vote-by-mail law. A state House candidate, a Republican attorney for voters, and an employee of the Department of Elections appealed Cook’s ruling supporting same-day registration.
The new state legislation permitting unlimited mail-in voting and Election Day registration were declared illegal on Friday by the Supreme Court of Delaware.
The justices stated in a three-page order that the vote-by-mail statute improperly broadens the types of absentee voters specified in Delaware’s constitution. According to them, the same-day registration law is in violation with the registration windows outlined in the constitution.
While upholding Cook’s decision on the vote-by-mail rule, the Supreme Court recommended that his decision permitting same-day registration be overturned.
“I am very pleased the court recognized that the language of the constitution really matters. This is a win for the rule of law,” according to former attorney general and state party chair Jane Brady. Plaintiffs opposing the new legislation were represented by Brady and Georgetown attorney Julianne Murray, the GOP candidate for attorney general.
The decision was made following Thursday’s hearing of the case’s arguments by the justices, who will next issue a written opinion.
Rather of maintaining a constitutional focus, the arguments in the case took a partisan turn.
In a combative tone, Jennings—who will run against Murray in the November election—said that Republicans will stop at nothing to “stop” people from voting. She also hinted that she thought those who opposed the laws that the court overturned on constitutional grounds were political fanatics.
In a prepared statement, Jennings claimed that “Extremists are celebrating today at voters’ expense,”
Leaders of the Democratic parties in the State House and Senate voiced their displeasure with the decision.
Pete Schwartzopf, the speaker of the House, and Valerie Longhurst, the majority leader, issued a prepared statement saying that “Unfortunately, the Supreme Court’s decision reinforces that our previous efforts to amend Delaware’s constitution for voting is more important now than ever.”
In floor arguments, Republican lawmakers had claimed that both legislation were illegal, according to Republican minority leaders in the state Senate.
In a prepared statement, they claimed that “The sponsors and Democrats ignored our concerns, dismissed expert legal testimony, and passed both pieces of legislation anyway. Today, however, the rule of law prevailed.”
In the end, it comes down to whether or not to maintain the US Constitution.
More on this story via The Republic Brief:
Democratic lawmakers introduced the vote-by-mail bill after failing to win Republican support to amend the constitution. A constitutional amendment requires a two-thirds vote by each chamber in two consecutive General Assemblies. The first leg of a constitutional amendment to eliminate limitations on absentee balloting cleared the legislature in 2020, after initially being defeated in the Democrat-controlled Senate, but the second leg failed to win the necessary majority in the Democrat-led House last year. CONTINUE READING…