CHAPTER 155 - GENERAL ELECTIONS ABSENTEE VOTING

AN ACT TO AMEND CHAPTER 118, VOLUME 44, LAWS OF DELAWARE, ENTITLED, "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. That Section 1, Chapter 118, Volume 44, Laws of Delaware, 1943, be and the same is hereby amended by repealing all of the said section and by substituting in lieu thereof a new section as follows:

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

Section 2. That Section 2, Chapter 118, Volume 44, Laws of Delaware, 1943, be and the same is hereby amended by repealing all of the said Section and by substituting in lieu thereof a new Section as follows:

Section 2. Any such elector not later than during the regular office hours of the day prior to any such general election, may make request to the Department of Elections of the County in which the election district of such elector is located, for an official ballot to be voted at such election.

Such request if made not later than during the regular office hours of the Department, on the day before a general election, may be made by anyone on behalf of any such elector, and if such request shall be made to any State or County official, it shall be immediately transmitted to the Department of Elections of the County in which the election district of such elector is located, and the Department of Elections of that County shall act upon such a request as if it were made directly to it.

Section 3. That Section 4, Chapter 118, Volume 44, Laws of Delaware, 1943, be and the same is hereby amended by repealing all of the said Section and by substituting a new Section in lieu thereof as follows:

Section 4. Upon the receipt of such a request from an elector, the Department of Elections, not more than sixty nor less than three days prior to a general election and within three days after the ballots, envelopes and instructions to absentee voters become available, as provided by the general election law, as amended, shall mail to the elector, postage prepaid, an official ballot for the proper representative district in which the said elector is a resident, or such Department shall deliver such a ballot to the elector personally, not more than thirty nor less than one secular day before said election, accompanied by an "official envelope", a voucher envelope, a carrier envelope self-addressed to the Department of Elections and a copy of "Instructions to Absentee Voters", as herein provided.

Section 4. That Section 5, Chapter 118, Volume 44, Laws of Delaware, 1943, be and the same is hereby amended by repealing all of the said Section and by substituting in lieu thereof a new Section as follows:

Section 5. The Department of Elections shall enclose such ballot in an official envelope, and a voucher envelope shall be furnished to him by the Department, which voucher envelope shall bear upon the face thereof the words, "VOUCHER ENVELOPE", and for each County such voucher envelope 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;

I do solemnly swear (or affirm), that I am a resident of the State of Delaware and will have resided therein years preceding the day of the General Election at which this ballot is to be voted, that my voting address is, ___________________ (City, Town or Village if any) at, _________ (street address, Road and rural delivery number if any), Election District _____________ (if known) Representative District _______ (if known), in ______ County;

That I will be absent from said County on the day of said election because of WORK ____, PERSONAL BUSINESS OR EMPLOYMENT ______, or PUBLIC SERVICE ____; or because of SICKNESS or PHYSICAL DISABILITY ____ I cannot personally appear at the polling place in the election district in which I am registered; (check cause). I further swear that I marked the enclosed ballot in secret.

Signed ______________ (write name here)

_________________ (print name here)

Subscribed and sworn (or affirmed) to before me this ____ day of____ A. D. 19____; and I hereby certify that the affiant did, and in such a manner i; that I could not see his vote, mark such ballot; that the affiant was not solicited or advised by me to vote .for or against any candidate or candidates.

Signed __________ (Notary Public) (or other qualified person, stating your title)

Section 5. That Section 6, Chapter 118, Volume 44, Laws of Delaware, 1943, be and the same is hereby amended by repealing all of the said Section and by substituting a new Section in lieu thereof as follows:

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 such voter shall thereupon in the presence of such officer, and of no other person mark such ballot but in such manner that said officer cannot know how the ballot is marked, and said ballot shall then in the presence of the said officer be deposited by the voter in the official envelope. The official envelope containing the ballot shall then be deposited in the voucher envelope, and the said voucher envelope shall be securely sealed by said voter. Thereupon the voucher envelope containing the marked ballot shall be enclosed in the carrier envelope received by said voter from the Department of Elections and after the voter has enclosed the voucher envelope containing the marked. ballot in the carrier envelope, he shall securely seal the carrier envelope and mail it, postage prepaid, to the Department of Elections of the County issuing the ballot, or if more convenient, it may be delivered to the said Department in person, to be received in either case, by said Department of Elections prior to noon of election day and not thereafter.

Section 6. That Section 7, Chapter 118, Volume 44, Laws of Delaware, 1943, be and the same is hereby amended by striking out and repealing all of said Section and enacting and inserting in lieu thereof a new Section 7 as follows:

Section 7. The Department of Elections shall also mail or deliver to such an absentee elector, from whom he has received a request for an official ballot, a copy "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 words, "Department of Elections", together with the County of said Department and the post office address thereof.

Section 7. That Section 8, Chapter 118, Volume 44, Laws of Delaware, 1943, be and the same is hereby amended by striking out and repealing all of the said Section and by substituting in lieu thereof a new Section as follows:

Section 8. All envelopes used under the provisions of this Act, including all envelopes in which the Department of Elections shall forward to an absentee voter an official ballot accompanied by the official envelope, the voucher envelope, a carrier envelope and Instructions to absentee voters, and the envelopes used by the Department of Elections for forwarding the returned marked ballot to the polls of the various election districts, shall be uniform throughout the State, and the voucher envelope shall be of the 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 envelope, and it shall be unlawful for any Department of Elections to purchase, use, have printed upon, mail or deliver any envelope for use under the provisions of this Act, unless such type or kind of such envelope has first been approved personally by the Attorney General as aforesaid.

Section 8. That Section 9, Chapter 118, Volume 44, Laws of Delaware, 1943, be and the same is hereby amended by striking out and repealing all of said Section and enacting and inserting in lieu thereof a new Section 9 as follows:

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 Department of Elections in sufficient time for such Departments to have such instructions printed and forwarded to absentee electors requesting an official ballot for the ensuing general election.

Section 9. That Section 10, Chapter 118, Volume 44, Laws of Delaware, 1943, be and the same is hereby amended by striking out and repealing all of the said Section and by substituting in lieu thereof a new Section as follows:

Section 10. Upon receipt of the carrier envelope from the absentee voter, the Department of Elections or person authorized by them to do so, shall open only the carrier envelope and take therefrom the voucher envelope containing the ballot of the absentee voter and shall ascertain from the address 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 any member of the Department of Elections, the Secretary or any other person to open or attempt to open the enclosed voucher envelope containing the ballot of the absentee voter, or to change or alter, or attempt to do so, the said envelope or any writing, printing or anything whatsoever thereon.

Any member of the Department of Elections or person authorized by them to do so, shall forthwith enclose the voucher envelope as received by the Department and unopened, in a large or carrier envelope, the President and Secretary of the Department having first written their usual signature on the said large carrier envelope, which said carrier 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 have been put when read, and returned therewith."

Department of Elections for _____ County.

_____________ Secretary _______________ President.

The President or Secretary of the Department, shall forthwith securely seal said carrier envelope and in ink the President and Secretary shall write their full names thereon in the proper place, as above indicated, and shall safely keep the same in the office of the Department until delivered as herein after provided.

Section 10. That Section 11, Chapter 118, Volume 44, Laws of Delaware, 1943, be and the same is hereby amended by striking out and repealing all of the said Section and by substituting in lieu thereof a new Section as follows:

Section 11. When an absentee voter's ballot shall be received by any Department of Elections 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 Department, shall be enclosed and sealed in a package and delivered with the official ballots for the election district in which said absentee voter, as so indicated by said voter, is a resident, 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 the Department of Elections, the said Department, after enclosing said voucher envelope containing the marked ballot in a carrier envelope in a manner and form as provided by Section 10 of this Act, shall safely keep the same in its office until the day of the election, and on election day and as early as possible, any member of the Department, 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 elections 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 such absentee voter to return his marked ballot enclosed in the voucher envelope to the Department of Elections of his County before noon of election day; and any absentee ballot received by any Department of Elections after 12:00 o'clock noon of election day shall not be forwarded to the polls, but the President or the Secretary of the Department shall endorse on the voucher envelope containing such ballot the time such was received and shall retain all such envelopes 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 11. That Section 12, Chapter 118, Volume 44, Laws of Delaware, 1943, be and the same is hereby amended by striking out and repealing all of the said Section and by substituting in lieu thereof a new Section as follows:

Section 12. The election officers shall refuse to receive any absentee voter's ballot from any person other than a member of the Department of Elections of their County, or a duly deputized agent, other than those ballots enclosed in the sealed package delivered with the official ballots and envelopes by the Department of Elections 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 signature in ink of the President and Secretary of the said Department according to Section 10 of this Act.

Section 12, That Section 13, Chapter 118, Volume 44, Laws of Delaware, 1943, be and the same is hereby amended by striking out and repealing all of the said Section and by substituting in lieu thereof a new Section as follows:

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 registered voter of said election district, and that such 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 therefrom the official envelope containing the marked ballot, and without opening or permitting the official envelope to be opened or the contents examined, shall cause the two poll clerks to write their names on the official envelope as in the case of other official envelopes, and the clerks shall enter the name and address of the absentee voter on the poll lists. The said ballot shall then be voted in the same manner, with the proper entries thereof in the election records, as if the ballot had been tendered in person by said elector.

In case the affidavit of the absentee voter is found to be insufficient, or that said absentee voter is not a duly registered 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 such ballot has been forwarded to the polls by someone other than the Department of Elections 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" (giving reason therefor), and if the voucher envelope has been opened and the ballot is rejected, the official envelope containing the ballot shall be replaced in the same voucher envelope from which it was taken and the election officers shall endorse on the voucher envelope, "REJECTED" (giving 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 shall be placed with other disputed ballots and envelopes in the ballot box as provided by 1859. Sec. 50, Chapter 60 of the General Election Laws and the Revised Code of Delaware (1935).

Section 13. That Section 16, Chapter 118, Volume 44, Laws of Delaware, 1943, be and the same is hereby amended by striking out the words, "Clerk of the Peace", where the said words appear in the said Section and by substituting in lieu thereof the words, "Department of Elections".

Section 14. That Section 18, Chapter 118, Volume 44, Laws of Delaware, 1943, be and the same is hereby amended by striking out the words "Clerk of the Peace" where the said words appear in the second paragraph of the said Section and by substituting in lieu thereof the words, "Department of Elections".

That Section 18, Chapter 118, Volume 44, Laws of Delaware, 1943, be and the same is hereby further amended by striking out the words, "Clerk of the Peace", where the said words* appear in the third paragraph of the said Section and by substituting in lieu thereof the words, "President and Secretary of any Department of Elections".

Section 15. That Section 23, Chapter 118, Volume 44, Laws of Delaware, 1943, be and the same is hereby amended by striking out the words, "Clerk of the Peace", in the several places where the said words appear in the said Section and by substituting in lieu thereof the words, "Department of Elections".

Section 16. That Section 24, Chapter 118, Volume 44, Laws of Delaware, 1943, be and the same is hereby amended by striking out the words "Clerk of the Peace", in the several places where the said words appear in the said Section and by substituting in lieu thereof the words, "Department of Elections".

Section 17. All Acts or parts of Acts inconsistent with the provisions of this Act are hereby repealed.

Approved April 11, 1945.