CHAPTER 118

GENERAL ELECTIONS

ABSENTEE VOTING PERMITTED UNDER CERTAIN CONDITIONS

AN ACT TO PERMIT VOTING BY PERSONS NOT PRESENT AT THE POLLING PLACES, UNDER CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES AND CONDITIONS.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the State of Delaware in General Assembly met:

Section 1. Any qualified elector of this State, duly registered, who may be in the public service of the United States of America or of this State, and who because of such public service, or who because of the nature of his or her work or business, may be absent, or may expect to be absent, from this State, or from the election district in which he or she is a qualified elector, or who because of sickness or physical disability cannot appear at the polling place in such district, on the day of holding any general election, may vote at such election as hereinafter provided.

Section 2. Any such elector, not more than thirty days nor less than three days, or, if request is made in person, not later than during the regular office hours of the day prior to any such general election, may make request to the Clerk of the Peace of the County, in which the election district of such elector is located, for an official ballot to be voted at such election.

Section 3. The word "ballot" as used herein shall mean the official ballot to be used for voting at the regular election district of the absentee voter and shall include one of every separate official ballots if two or more separate ballots are authorized by law to be so used at such general election.

Section 4. Upon receipt of such a request from a duly registered elector, and not more than twenty nor less than three days prior to a general election, the said Clerk of the Peace shall mail to the applicant, postage prepaid, an official ballot for the proper representative district in which the said elector is a resident and in which he is duly registered, or such officer shall deliver such a ballot to the applicant personally, not more than fifteen nor less than one secular day before said election, accompanied by a voucher envelope, a carrier envelope self-addressed to said Clerk of the Peace and a copy of "Instructions to Absentee Voter", as hereinafter provided.

Section 5. The said Clerk of the Peace shall enclose such ballot in a voucher envelope, not sealed, to be furnished by him, which voucher envelope shall bear upon the face thereof the words "VOUCHER ENVELOPE", and for each County such voucher envelopes shall be successively numbered beginning with Number 1 printed in red ink in the upper right hand corner on the face thereof.

There shall also be printed on the face of such voucher envelope an affidavit in substantially the following form:

STATE OF

COUNTY OF

} SS.

, do

solemnly swear (or affirm) that I am a resident of the

election district of the

representative district in the County of
State of Delaware, and am entitled to vote in such election district at the general election to be held on

That I am

(Here state work or business or public service, name

of employer, place of employment, work or service and such

information to establish inability to personally aPpear at polls.)

and because of: (Strike out clause not applicable)

(a) My duties in such work, business or service

(b) Sickness or physical disability

I cannot personally appear at the polling place in said election district on the day of said election. I further swear that I marked the enclosed ballot in secret.

Signed

Subscribed and sworn (or affirmed) to before me this day of , A. D. 19.... ; and I hereby certify that the affiant exhibited the enclosed ballot to me unmarked; that he then in my presence and in the presence of no other person, and in such manner that I could not see his vote, marked such ballot and enclosed and sealed the same in this envelope; that the affiant was not solicited or advised by me to vote for or against any candidate or candidates.

Notary Public

(Or other qualified person,

stating your title.)

Section 6. Such absent or sick or disabled voter shall make and subscribe to the affidavit, provided for in Section 5 of this Act, before an officer authorized by law to administer oaths, and said voter shall thereupon in the presence of such officer, and of no other person, mark said ballot but in such manner that said officer cannot know how the ballot is marked, and said ballot shall then in the presence of said officer be folded by the voter so as to conceal the marking, and in the presence of said officer the said ballot shall be deposited in such voucher envelope, and the said voucher envelope shall be securely sealed by said voter. Thereupon said voucher envelope containing the marked ballot shall be enclosed in the carrier envelope received by said voter from the Clerk of the Peace, and after the voter has securely sealed the voucher envelope containing the marked ballot in the carrier envelope, he shall securely seal the carrier envelope and shall mail it, postage prepaid, to the Clerk of the Peace of his county issuing the ballot, or if more convenient, may be delivered to said officer in person, to be received, in either event, by said Clerk of the Peace prior to noon of election day and not afterwards.

Section 7. The said Clerk of the Peace shall also mail or deliver to such an absentee elector, from whom he has received a request for an official ballot, a copy of "Instructions to Absentee Voter", as hereinafter provided, and a carrier envelope of sufficient size to enclose the voucher envelope containing the marked ballot, which carrier envelope shall bear upon the face thereof the words "CARRIER ENVELOPE" and the name, official title and post office address of such Clerk of the Peace.

Section 8. All envelopes used under the provisions of this Act, including all envelopes in which the Clerk of the Peace shall forward to an absentee voter an official ballot accompanied by the voucher envelope, a carrier envelope and "Instructions to Absentee Voter", the voucher envelopes, the carrier envelopes and the envelopes to be used by the Clerk of the Peace for forwarding the return marked ballot to the polls of the various election districts, shall be uniform throughout the State and shall be of the kind or type known as a security mailing envelope and such as will securely protect the contents thereof from tampering, removal or substitution without detection. It shall be the duty of the Attorney General of the State personally to approve each kind or type of said envelopes, and it shall be unlawful for a Clerk of the Peace to purchase, use, have printed upon, mail or deliver any envelope for use under the provisions of this Act, unless such kind or type of envelope has first been so approved personally by the Attorney General as aforesaid.

Section 9. The Attorney General of the State shall prepare a list of instructions to assist an absentee voter in properly marking and returning his ballot under the provisions of this Act, which list shall be known as "Instructions to Absentee Voter". Before each general election the Attorney General shall deliver a copy thereof to each Clerk of the Peace in sufficient time for such officials to have such instructions printed and forwarded to absentee electors requesting an official ballot for the ensuing general election.

Section 10. Upon receipt from the absentee elector of the carrier envelope, the said Clerk of the Peace shall open only the carrier envelope and take therefrom the sealed voucher envelope containing the ballot of the absentee voter and shall ascertain therefrom the proper election district to which said ballot shall be forwarded as indicated by the elector in his affidavit thereon.

It shall be unlawful for a Clerk of the Peace to open or attempt to open the enclosed voucher envelope containing the ballot of the absentee elector, or to change or alter, or attempt to do so, the said envelope or any writing, printing or anything whatsoever thereon.

The Clerk of the Peace shall forthwith enclose the voucher envelope as received by him and unopened in a larger or carrier envelope, having first impressed on said larger or carrier envelope the seal of his office, which said envelope shall have printed thereon the following:

ABSENTEE VOTER'S BALLOT

for the

Election District

of the Representative District

of County

This envelope contains an Absentee Voter's Ballot and shall be opened only at the polls of said Election District on Election Day while said polls are open.

This envelope and the enclosed Voucher Envelope shall be preserved by the Inspector and at the close of the count shall be placed in the box into which the ballots shall have been put when read, and returned therewith.

Clerk of the Peace of

County.

The Clerk of the Peace shall forthwith securely seal said carrier envelope and in ink shall endorse his full name thereon in the proper platy, as above provided, having first affixed his official seal thereon in order not to mark the contents thereof, and shall safely keep the same in his office until delivered by him as hereinafter provided.

Section 11. When an absentee voter's ballot shall be received by the Clerk of the Peace prior to the delivery of the official ballots, as provided by law, the voucher envelope containing the marked ballot, sealed in the carrier envelope of the Clerk of the Peace, shall be enclosed in the package containing the official ballots for the election district in which said absentee voter, as so indicated by said voter, is a resident and therewith delivered in said package as provided by the general election law.

If the official ballots for such election district shall have been delivered prior to the receipt of such absentee voter's ballot by said Clerk of the Peace, the said Clerk of the Peace, after enclosing said voucher envelope containing the marked ballot in a carrier envelope in a manner and form as provided by Section 10 hereof, shall safely keep the same in his office until the day of the election, and on election day and as early as possible, the Clerk of the Peace, in person or by a duly deputized agent, shall deliver all such absentee voters ballots separately enclosed in a carrier envelope as aforesaid to the inspector of election at the polls of the respective election districts of said absentee voters, taking the receipt of the respective inspectors for the delivery of such a ballot or ballots.

It shall be the duty of any such absentee voter to return his marked ballot enclosed in the voucher envelope to the Clerk of the Peace of his county before noon of election day; and any absentee ballot received by the Clerk of the Peace after noon of election day shall not be forwarded to the polls, but the Clerk of the Peace shall endorse on the voucher envelope containing such ballot the time such was received and shall retain all such enve-

lopes unopened and so endorsed until the last day of February next after the election, and longer if directed to do so by proper authority

Section 12. The election officers at any poll shall refuse to receive any absentee voter's ballot from any person other than the Clerk of the Peace of their county, or a duly deputized agent, other than those ballots enclosed in the sealed package of ballots and envelopes delivered by the Clerk of the Peace to the inspector of said election district, and shall refuse to receive and act upon any such ballot that is not enclosed in an envelope bearing the seal and the signature in ink of the said Clerk of the Peace, according to the provisions of Section 10 hereof.

Section 13. At any time between the opening and the closing of the polls on election day the inspector or a judge of election of said election district shall open the outer or carrier envelope only and ascertain the name of the absentee voter as appears by the executed affidavit of the absentee voter on the voucher envelope enclosing the marked ballot ; whereupon he shall announce the absentee voter's name and upon the determination that such person is a duly qualified elector of said district, and that said elector has not voted in person at said election, he shall open the voucher envelope containing such absentee voter's ballot in such a manner as not to deface or destroy the number thereof, or the affidavit thereon, and take out the ballot therein contained, without unfolding or permitting the same to be unfolded or examined and shall place the said ballot in a regular official envelope used at a general election and cause said ballot to be voted in the same manner, with the proper entries thereof in the election records, as if the said ballot had been tendered in person by said elector.

In case the affidavit of the absentee voter is found Lu ue insufficient, or that said absentee is not a duly qualified elector in such election district, or that the voucher envelope is open, or has been opened and re-sealed, or it is evident that the

voucher envelope has been tampered with or altered, or contains more than one of every separate official ballots authorized by law, or such ballot has been forwarded to said polls by someone other than the Clerk of the Peace of said county, such vote shall not be accepted or counted. If the voucher envelope has not been opened at the time the election officers decide that the offered ballot contained therein should be rejected for any of the foregoing reasons, it shall not be opened by the election officers but they shall endorse thereon "REJECTED (give reason therefor)", and if the voucher envelope has been opened and the ballot is rejected, the ballot shall be replaced in the same voucher envelope from which it was taken and the election officers shall endorse on the envelope: "REJECTED (give reason therefor)".

All voucher envelopes from which ballots have been taken and voted as aforesaid, and all voucher envelopes containing ballots and rejected and endorsed as aforesaid, shall be preserved by the Inspector, and at the close of the count placed with other disputed ballots and envelopes in the ballot box as provided by 1859. Sec. 50. of Chapter 60 of the General Election Laws and the Revised Code of Delaware of 1935.

Section 14. The vote of any absentee voter may be challenged for the same causes and in the same manner as provided by the General Election Laws, and upon challenge, proceedings thereon shall be as provided by the General Election Laws.,

Section 15. Whenever it shall be made to appear by due proof to the inspector and judges of election that any absentee voter, who has marked and forwarded his ballot, as provided in this Act, has died, the voucher envelope containing the ballot shall not be opened but shall be marked "REJECTED, Dead", and shall be preserved and disposed of as other rejected ballots as provided by Section 13 hereof.

Section 16. The Clerk of the Peace of each county shall cause to be provided for his office a Register of Absentee Voters providing for the following entries:

(name)

Request received from

(address) in person (date)

of by mail on

ballot and voucher envelope number mailed to applicant on
(date)

, or ballot and voucher envelope

(name) ( address )

delivered to of
(date)

on ; Marked Ballot sealed in Package

of Official Ballots ; Marked Ballot for-

warded to Polls ; and such other entries as such other

officers shall deem proper to prevent fraud and to make possible the tracing and detection of any attempt so to do.

Section 17. If such an absentee voter shall mark and return an official ballot for an election district other than the one of which he or she is a resident and a duly registered elector, such ballot, because thereof, shall not be adjudged invalid, but, as indicated by the marking of said ballot by said voter, shall be counted as a vote for every candidate appearing thereon who is a candidate for an office to be duly voted for in said election district.

Section 18. Any person wilfully making a false affidavit as provided herein shall be guilty of perjury and, upon conviction, shall be punished as in such case by law provided.

Any person, other than election officials on the day of a general election and at the polls, or the Board of Canvass, who shall open or attempt to open any sealed voucher or carrier envelope, as herein provided for; or any person who shall print or cause to be printed any envelope identical or purportedly similar to the voucher envelope or either carrier envelope herein provided for, other than the printing of said envelopes by the official printer selected by the Clerk of the Peace for the printing of such envelopes pursuant to the provisions of this Act; or any person who shall aid or abet, or attempt to aid or abet, any fraud in connection with any vote cast, or to be cast, under the provisions of this Act, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction shall be imprisoned for not less than one year nor more than five years.

Any person who shall fraudulently sign the name of a voter to the affidavit provided for by this Act on any voucher envelope, or shall fraudulently sign the name of a Clerk of the Peace on any carrier envelope provided for by this Act, shall be guilty of forgery and upon conviction therefor shall be punished for such crime as by law provided.

Any election officer or public official who shall knowingly violate any of the provisions of this Act, and thereby aid in any way the illegal casting of a vote, or attempting to cast a vote, or who shall connive to nullify any provision of this Act, in order that fraud may be perpetrated, shall be guilty of felony and upon conviction shall be fined not less than five hundred ($500) dollars nor more than five thousand ($5,000) dollars and imprisoned for not less than one year nor more than ten years.

Any person who in any way in the voting or attempting to vote by himself or any other person pursuant to the provisions of this Act, violates any of the laws of this State enacted to secure secrecy and the independence of the voter, preserve the freedom and purity of elections and prevent fraud, corruption and intimidation, shall be punished as provided thereby.

Section 19. Any affidavit required under the -provisions of this Act may be taken before any person with authority to administer oaths and affirmations in the place where such affidavit may be taken, and whenever taken outside the State of Delaware, the authority of such person shall be conclusively presumed.

Section 20. It is intended, by the provisions of this Act, that those qualified electors, who may vote under the provisions thereof, shall be those only who may be absent, or may expect to be absent, on election day from the polling place in the election district in which he or she may be a qualified elector, because of the inherent nature of his or her work or business, such as those engaged in the military forces of the United States or of this State, commercial travelers, railroad employees, pilots and sailors, and not merely because such electors may find it more convenient not to personally appear at the polls and to follow his or her regular work or employment or for mere personal convenience and not because of enforced inability to personally attend.

Section 21. The provisions of this Act shall be deemed to provide a method of voting in addition to the method now provided by law, and to such extent as amendatory of laws now in force relating to the manner and method of voting.

Section 22. That Article 5 of Chapter 60 of the Revised Code of Delaware 1935, comprising 1945. Sec. 136. to 1959. Sec. 150. inclusive, is hereby repealed.

Approved April 15, 1943.