A Delaware judge has ruled that the state’s new vote-by-mail law is unconstitutional and that no excuse, mail-in absentee ballots are not a valid form of voting in the November election.
Vice Chancellor Nathan Cook ruled the new law, which the Democrats rammed through the General Assembly in less than three weeks in June, violates a clause in Delaware’s constitution that defines when a person is allowed to cast an absentee ballot.
“Our Supreme Court and this court have consistently stated that those circumstances are exhaustive,” Cook wrote. “Therefore, as a trial judge, I am compelled by precedent to conclude that the vote-by-mail statute’s attempt to expand absentee voting must be rejected.”
The court did uphold same-day voting registration in Delaware. Cook continued:
“As I describe in this opinion, were I to construe the relevant constitutional sections and statutes on a blank slate, I would likely conclude that the plain text of the constitution, coupled with the strong presumptions in favor of constitutionality of legislative acts, lead me to a different result.
“But, in light of applicable and controlling precedent, I must find that the Vote-by-Mail Statute is unconstitutional for purposes of the general election.”
Republican Sen. Colin Bonini said:
“I think it was clear that it was unconstitutional.
“I’m disappointed that the court also didn’t strike down same-day registration.”
Julianne Murray, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said:
“I am delighted with the decision. The Vice Chancellor took great care in reviewing Delaware’s history as well as Delaware’s case law in coming to his conclusion.
“I obviously thought that the statute was unconstitutional but to have the Court agree is very validating.
“He started on the Constitutional Convention of 1897 and worked his way through.
“During the floor debates in both houses, members of the General Assembly said that, despite testimony that the statute is unconstitutional, they were going to pass the law and let it be sorted out in the courts.
“Well it has now been sorted out.”
Jane Brady, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said:
“I believe that the legislature has known from day one that they needed a constitutional amendment to do this.
“In my view, they abdicated their responsibility.”
Plaintiff Nick Miles said:
“This lawsuit is not an attack on vote by mail.
“If the General Assembly wants permanent, noexcuse vote by mail, they should amend the constitution. People are going to try to make this a partisan issue and it is really nonpartisan.
“This is not about the virtues or flaws of vote by mail.
“This is about following the proper procedure.”