CHAPTER 17

PROVIDING FOR GENERAL REGISTRATION EVERY FOUR YEARS AND LIMITED ABSENTEE REGISTRATION

AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 15, DELAWARE CODE OF 1953 IN RESPECT TO REGISTRATION OF VOTERS BY PROVIDING FOR A GENERAL REGISTRATION EVERY FOUR YEARS; FOR LIMITED ABSENTEE REGISTRATION; AND FOR GENERAL CHANGES IN REGISTRATION TIMES, PLACES AND PROCEDURE.

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Delaware:

Section 1. § 1102, Title 15 of the Delaware Code of 1953 is amended by striking all of § 1102 and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

§ 1102. General registration every four years; effective until next general registration

(a) During the year 1954 and prior to the general election to be held in that year, there shall be a registration of all persons resident in this State who shall be qualified to vote in the general election held in that year. During every fourth year after the year 1954 and prior to the general election to be held during every such fourth year, there shall also be a registration of all persons resident in this State who shall be qualified to vote in the general election to be held in the year of such registration. The registration in the year 1954 and in every fourth year thereafter shall be known as a "general registration", and each general registration shall be effective and have application only until the next general registration had four years thereafter.

(b) During each year in which a general registration is held, and prior to the general election to be held in each such year, there shall also be a registration of all persons qualified to vote at the general election to be held in such year who are temporarily absent from this State and are in the Armed Forces or Merchant Marine of the United States of America, or retainers or persons accompanying or serving therewith, or who are absent from this State because of illness or injury received while serving in any such capacity. The registration of all such persons shall be a part of the general registration.

(c) No person whose name appears in a general registration shall be required to register again until the next general registration unless he becomes disqualified or ceases for any reason to be a qualified voter in the election district in which he is registered in the general registration or unless a special registration, as provided for in sections 1104 and 1307 of this title, is held in such election district.

(d) With respect to any elections held in this State prior to the year 1954, the registration heretofore applicable in this State and the laws relating thereto, shall apply. Commencing with the year 1954, the provisions of this chapter as to registration shall apply.

Section 2. § 1103, Title 15 of the Delaware Code of 1953 is amended by striking all of § 1103 and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

§ 1103. Supplementary registrations every four years; effective until next general registration

(a) During the year 1956, and prior to the general election to be held in that year, there shall be a registration of all persons resident in this State who shall be qualified to vote in such general election and whose names do not appear as qualified voters on the registration from the general registration held in 1954. During every fourth year after the year 1956 and prior to the general election to be held during every such fourth year, there shall also be a registration of all persons resident in this State who shall be qualified to vote in the general election to be held in the year of such registration but whose names do not appear as qualified voters on the registration from the next previous general registration. The registration in the year 1956 and in every fourth year thereafter shall be known as a "supplementary registration", and shall be effective and have application only until the next ensuing general registration had in accordance with section 1102 of this title.

(b) During each year in which a supplementary registration is held, and prior to the general election to be held in each such year, there shall also be registration of all persons qualified to vote at the general election to be held in such year who are temporarily absent from this State and are in the Armed Forces or Merchant Marine of the United States of America, or retainers or persons accompanying or serving therewith, or who are absent from this State because of illness or injury received while serving in any such capacity, and whose names do not appear as qualified voters on the registration from the, next previous general registration. The registration of all such persons shall be a part of the supplementary registration for each such year.

Section 3. § 1104, Title 15 of the Delaware Code of 1953 is amended by striking out all of § 1104 and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

§ 1104. Special registrations; books not available

If the registration books for any election district are lost, destroyed, mutilated or defaced so that they are not available for use at an ensuing election at which the books would otherwise be used, a new registration, to be known as a "special registration" shall be held in such election district in accordance with the provisions of section 1307 of this title. But if one of the Registers and one of the Books of Registered Voters for such election district are in such condition that the contents thereof can be accurately transcribed, no such special registration shall be held and the contents thereof shall be transcribed in the manner prescribed by section 1306 of this title.

Section 4. § 1105, Title 15, Delaware Code of 1953 is amended by striking out all of § 1105 and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

§ 1105. Registration dates and hours in election districts

Registration officers shall sit for the purpose of ascertaining and registering the persons who are qualified to enjoy the right of an elector and who apply in person for registration, and whose names do not already appear as qualified voters on the registration books for such election district, at the places in their respective election districts as have been selected and designated for the purpose of registration, from eight o'clock A. M. until seven o'clock P. M. with an intermission from twelve to one o'clock; on the second Wednesday of the month of July, and on the first and third Saturdays of the month of October prior to the election.

Section 5. § 1301, Title 15 of the Delaware Code of 1953 is amended by striking out all of § 1301 and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

§ 1301. Registration books; furnished by governor

The Governor in 1954, and every four years thereafter, shall cause registration books to be prepared, at the expense of the State, and not later than April 1 of the year 1954 and of every fourth year thereafter, shall furnish the necessary registration books for the use of the Bureau and Departments, respectively, and for the use of the local registration officers in each election district in this State.

The cost of registration books supplied by the Governor shall be paid by the State.

Section 6. § 1304, Title 15 of the Delaware Code of 1953 is amended by striking out all of § 1304 and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

§ 1304. Use of registration books for general and supplementary registrations; use until filled

(a) The Registers and Books of Registered Voters which are used in making a general registration shall also be used in making the supplementary registration following such general registration, until they become so filled with entries that they can no longer conveniently be used for such purpose, in which case new books shall be obtained in accordance with the provisions of section 1305 of this title.

(b) The supplementary registration following a general registration shall begin in the Register immediately after the end of the general registration to which it is a supplement as follows:

() On each page of the Register where the said general registration ends, the Registrar shall write the words "The Supplementary Registration of Qualified Voters in _________ Election District of _________ Representative District in ________ County for the year _____," and shall, on the line immediately below such entry, begin with the entries concerning persons applying for registration at such supplementary registration.

Section 7. § 1307, Title 15 of the Delaware Code of 1953 is amended by striking out all of § 1307 and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

§ 1307. Registration books for special registration; procedure

(a) If upon examination it is found that both sets of registration books for any election district in this State are lost, destroyed, mutilated, or defaced so that they are not available for use at the next ensuing election at which such books would otherwise be used, then the Bureau or Department having custody of the registration books shall certify such fact to the Governor, who shall, prior to the first day of April of the year in which such next ensuing election is to be held, supply the Bureau or Department with the necessary registration books for a special registration, in such election district, of the same form and design as described in this chapter. The Bureau or Department receiving registration books from the Governor for a special registration shall deliver the books to the Registrars of the election district wherein the special registration is to be had, at least five days prior to the first registration day in the year in which such next ensuing election is to be held.

(b) In making a special registration the registration officers shall, in the same manner as provided in section 1722 of this title, record in the Registers the names of all persons appearing in person for registration, and shall enter opposite each name the statements and facts set forth in such section 1722, and they shall make up the Books of Registered Voters in the same manner as provided in section 1723 of this title.

(c) The Bureau or Department having custody of registration books shall, at least 10 days prior to the first day set for the purpose of registration as aforesaid, give public notice, by advertisements posted in 10 or more of the most public places in such election district, that the original registration books are no longer available and that it has become necessary to have a special registration in the election district, and of the places where the registration officers shall sit for the registration of electors and the day or days when they will sit at each place.

Section 8. § 1308, Title 15 of the Delaware Code of 1953 is amended by striking all of § 1308 and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

§ 1308. Status of new registration books; endorsements

The new registration books for a special registration shall be respectively the Registers and the Books of Registered Voters to be used for the next ensuing election.

The new Registers shall be endorsed upon the back of and at the head thereof with the words "Register of _______ Election District _______ Representative District of ________ County", together with the day, month and year when the same were received by the Bureau or Department.

The new Books of Registered Voters shall be endorsed "Books of Registered Voters of ________ Election District of _______ Representative District of _______County".

Endorsements as provided in this section shall be made by the president of the Bureau or Department.

Each of the Registrars, immediately upon receiving the new Registers and Books of Registered Voters, shall endorse upon the back and write at the head of each Register and Book of Registered Voters delivered to him, the name of the County, the name of the representative district and the name of the election district of which he is a Registrar and of which such books shall respectively be the Registers and Books of Registered Voters and the date when the books were received by him and shall sign such endorsements.

Section 9. § 1809, Title 15 of the Delaware Code of 1953 is amended by adding at the end thereof a subsection to be known as (c) as follows:

(c) If the Bureau or Department having jurisdiction determines that the transfer of names provided for in subsections (a) and (b) of this section cannot be accurately carried out, the Bureau or Department may in its discretion require that a special registration be held in the divided election districts. Such special registrations shall be conducted in the same manner as special registrations which are held when the registration books are lost, destroyed, mutilated or defaced.

Section 10. § 1702, Title 15 of the Delaware Code of 1953 is amended by striking all of § 1702 and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

§ 1702. Registration of qualified voters and striking of names at bureau or department

(a) In the month of April in each year in which a general election is held, the Bureau of Registration for New Castle County, the Department of Elections for Kent and Sussex Counties, respectively, shall appoint Auxiliary Registration Officers who shall within their respective Counties have all the powers and authority of local registration officers in their election districts to register qualified voters who appear personally for the purpose of registering and whose names do not appear as qualified voters on the Registers and Books of Registered Voters for the proper election district. The Auxiliary Registration Officers shall meet, at least once each week during the months of April, May and June and not less than 15 days during the regular work days and work hours of the public offices in the building in which they shall meet during the month of September of the year of their appointment, at the respective offices of the Department or Bureau by which they were appointed.

(b) Public notice of the days and hours and place of said meetings shall be given at least once, not less than ten days prior to the commencement of said meetings, by the Bureau or Department by advertisement published in one or more newspapers of general circulation throughout the County and by notice posted in two or more of the most public places in each election district.

(c) The Auxiliary Registration Officers shall use the same Registers and Books of Registered Voters as are used by the local registration officers in their respective election districts in performing the like duties.

(d) In each year in which a general election is held in this State, the Bureau of Registration for New Castle County, the Department of Elections for Kent County and the Department of Elections for Sussex County, respectively, shall meet at their respective County offices to strike off names under the same conditions and restrictions, with right of appeal in all cases, as in the case of local registration officers sitting in their respective local election districts during a supplementary registration as described in this chapter, giving like public notice, in all cases, of the days and hours of such sitting, as is required to be given in the case of registration in the several election districts, and using the same Registers and Books of Registered Voters as are used by the local registration officers in their respective election districts in performing the like duties.

Section 11. § 1703, Title 15 of the Delaware Code of 1953 is amended by striking all of § 1703 and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

§ 1703. Auxiliary registration officers; appointment; powers and duties; term of office; compensation; recommendation of political parties; oath

(a) For the purposes of section 1702, the Bureau of Registration for New Castle County, the Department of Elections for Kent County, and, the Department of Elections for Sussex County, respectively, may appoint Auxiliary Registration Officers who shall be residents of the county in which they are to serve. The Auxiliary Registration Officers shall have all the powers that are vested in and shall be required to perform all the duties, so far as consistent, that are imposed upon registration officers generally by any laws of this State. The Auxiliary Registration Officers before entering upon their duties shall take and subscribe the oath required of other registration officers.

(b) The County Executive Committee of each of the two principal-Parties shall furnish the Bureau or Department by the first day of April of the year in which the appointments are to be-Made a list of ten names of qualified persons from which the Bureau or Department shall make its appointments. If the Department or Bureau intends to appoint more than five Auxiliary Registration Officers from each of said parties, the Department or Bureau may request additional names to be submitted by the County Executive Committee of each of the two principal parties. If the list of names is not furnished to the Bureau or Department by the first day of April, or if the additional list of names is not furnished within ten days after the delivery of the request for additional names to the Secretary of the County Executive Committee, the Bureau or Department may appoint qualified persons of such political faith; otherwise all Auxiliary Registration Officers shall be appointed from the list or lists furnished as aforesaid.

(c) Auxiliary Registration Officers appointed under the provisions of this section shall be equally divided between the two principal political parties in this State; their compensation shall be fixed by, and they shall serve at the pleasure of, the Bureau or Department making the appointment. The compensation of such Auxiliary Registration Officers shall be paid by the Levy Court of the County in which such officers serve, upon certification to the said Levy Court by the President and Secretary of the Bureau or Department making the appointment.

Section 12. § 1704, Title 15 of the Delaware Code of 1953 is amended by striking out all of § 1704 and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

§ 1704. Striking names of persons disqualified

The Bureau and each Department in each year in which a general election is held, and prior to the first registration clay in the year, shall strike or cause to be struck from the Registers and Books of Registered Voters in each election district the name of every person appearing on the books who since his registration has become disqualified, or for any reason has ceased to be a qualified voter in the election district in which he registered.

Before any name shall be stricken from the registration books, for any of the causes stated in this section, the Bureau' or Department shall give notice of such intention and the reason therefor, by registered mail, directed to such registered voter at the post office address as the same shall appear in the Registers, and the date when such matter shall be passed on by the Bureau or Department. Such notice shall be mailed not later than 5 days next preceding the sitting of the Bureau or Department to act upon such notice of intention to strike such name from the list of registered voters. If at such meeting of the Bureau or Department it shall be established to their satisfaction that the person is a duly qualified voter in the election district, then his name shall not be stricken from the registration books; but if it shall not be so established, the Bureau or Department shall draw or cause to be drawn, in the Registers, a heavy line in ink through the name of such person in the column headed "Registered Voter" and a line shall be drawn through his name as first entered, but in such a manner that his name shall remain legible, and in the column headed "Remarks" opposite his name shall be written the reason for such disqualification.

Section 13. § 1707, Title 15 of the Delaware Code of 1953 is repealed.

Section 14. § 1901, Title 15 of the Delaware Code of 1953 is amended by striking all of § 1901 and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

§ 1901. Additional registration at administrative offices or by absentee registration

(a) In addition to the registration days as elsewhere provided by law, the Bureau of Registration for New Castle County and the Department of Elections for Kent and Sussex Counties shall sit each day, Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays excepted, during the regular office hours of the Bureau or Department, and such other hours as the Bureau or Department deems necessary in the office of the Bureau or Department during all of each year in which a general election is to be held in this State and up until 10 days prior to the date of such general election, for the purpose of registering every qualified elector who is a member of the Armed Forces of the United States of America, or of the Merchant Marine of the United States of America, or who is serving with the American Red Cross, the Society of Friends, or the United Service Organizations, attached to and serving with the Armed Forces of the United States of America, or who has received official notice of induction or acceptance into any such services, and whose name does not already appear as a registered voter on the registration books for his or her election district and who appears in person at the office of the Bureau or Department.

(b) Every person who is absent from this State and is a member of the Armed Forces of the United States of America, or of the Merchant Marine of the United States of America, or is serving with the American Red Cross, the Society of Friends or the United Service Organizations and is therewith attached to and serving with the Armed Forces of the United States of America, or who is absent from this State because of illness or injury received while serving in any such capacity, and further who was a resident of an election district of this State at the commencement of his said membership or service, may also register in said election district under the provisions of section 1906 of this title as provided in Section 4 B, Article V of the Constitution of the State of Delaware, provided that he

(1) will be the age of twenty one years or older on or before the day of the general election next succeeding his or her registration; and

(2) commenced his said membership or service at least thirty days prior to the day of the general election next succeeding his registration; and

(3) has either been a member o said armed forces or said Merchant Marine or has been serving as aforesaid for at least one year prior to the day of the general election next succeeding his registration or else was a bona fide resident of this State one year or more prior to such day; and, if the latter,

(4) has either been a member of said Armed Forces or said Merchant Marine or has been serving as aforesaid for at least six months prior to the day of the general election next succeeding his registration or else was a bona fide resident of the county in which said election district is located six months or more prior to such day; and

(5) can read the Constitution of this State in English, and write his name, unless prevented by reason of physical disability; and

(6) has not been convicted of a crime deemed by law a felony and has not within 10 years next preceding the day of the general election next succeeding his registration been convicted of violating Section 7 of Article V of the Constitution of this State.

(c) Registration made under this section in a year in which a general registration is held shall be a part of the general registration for such year. Registration made under this section in any year in which a "supplementary registration" is held shall be a part of such supplementary registration. In either event, registration under this section shall be good and effective only until the next succeeding general registration as provided by the laws of this State.

Section 15. Chapter 19, Title 15 of the Delaware Code of 1953 is amended by adding thereto 4 new sections as follows:

§ 1906. Absentee registration; procedure

(a) Any person meeting the tests laid down in section 1901 (b) of this title may register absentee by applying in writing to the Bureau or Department for an absentee registration affidavit at any time during the year in which a general election is to be held in this State up to, but not after, thirty days before the general election is to be held and by returning such affidavit to the said Bureau or Department no later than ten days prior to election day. The application for such affidavit must be received by the Bureau or Department no later than thirty days prior to election day.

() The absentee registration affidavit shall be in the form set forth in section 1907 of this title and shall be made before any commissioned officer of the armed forces or Merchant Marine of the United States of America or before any other officer authorized by law to administer oaths. It shall be returned, duly authenticated as above, in an envelope addressed to the Bureau or Department of the County in which the affiant claims to be a resident.

(a) The Bureau or Department, on request made in writing therefor, shall forthwith mail the necessary blank forms of the absentee registration affidavit, in duplicate, to all persons applying for them. The affiant may retain the duplicate copy of such affidavit. Upon receipt of the affidavit by the Bureau or Department within the time permitted herein, the Bureau or Department shall record the affiant's name in the proper books of registration as a qualified voter duly registered to vote.

§ 1907. Absentee registration affidavit; form

The absentee registration affidavit shall be in substantially the following form and contain the information requested in such form:

STATE OF _________

ss.

COUNTY OF _______

I, _______________ 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 register as a qualified voter in the general election to be held in said district during the year in which this affidavit is dated; that I am absent from the State of Delaware and do not expect to be present in the State of Delaware at any time from the date of this affidavit until ten days before the date of such general election; that I am absent because:

____ I am a member of the Armed Forces of the United States of America;

____ I am a member of the Merchant Marine of the United States of America;

____ I am serving with the American Red Cross attached to and serving with the Armed Forces of the United States of America;

____ I am serving with the Society of Friends attached to and serving with the Armed Forces of the United States of America;

____ I am serving with the United Service Organizations attached to and serving with the Armed Forces of the United States of America;

____ I am suffering from an illness or injury received while serving in any of the foregoing capacities;

that I was a resident of the said election district at the commencement of my aforesaid membership (or service); and that the following information concerning me is true and correct:

1. Name: _____________________________________________

Surname Christian Name Initial or Initials

2. Age: Date of Birth:

3. Nativity:

4. Residence:

5. State: ______ Length of:

6. County: _____ Length of:

7. Election District: _____ Length of:

8. If naturalized, the date:

9. If naturalized, what court:

10. Previously registered:

11. If so, where and when:

12. Date of commencement of membership in Armed Forces or Merchant Marine or Service with specified related services:

13. Convicted of a crime deemed by law a felony:

14. Convicted of violating Section 7, Article V of Constitution of Delaware: If so, when:

15. Can read the Constitution of Delaware in English, except for physical disability:

16. Can write name, except for physical disability:

Signed ____________________________

Subscribed and Sworn to (or affirmed) before me this __ day of ___ A D., 19__.

_____________________________________________________

Commissioned Officer, Notary Public or other qualified person (state title).

§ 1908. Absentee registration affidavit; application for by applying for absentee ballot; mailing affidavit with absentee ballot; registration by affidavit so received

Whenever any person not a registered elector for the year in which a general election is to be held who meets the tests laid down in section 1901 (b) of this title shall apply in writing to the Department of the County of which he claims to be a resident, for an absentee ballot, within the time provided therefor by the laws of this State, the Department shall mail to the applicant along with the absentee ballot, envelopes and instructions, the necessary blank forms of the absentee registration affidavit, in duplicate, in the form set forth in section 1907 of this title, to be executed and returned by the applicant as provided in section 1906 of this title.

If the absentee registration affidavit is properly executed, authenticated and returned as provided in section 1906 of this title, and if the information contained therein shows that the applicant is otherwise qualified to vote under the laws of this State, the applicant shall be deemed a qualified voter duly registered to vote to the same extent and with the same effect as if he had followed one of the other authorized methods of registration; and the Bureau or Department shall record proper entries in the registration books showing that the applicant is duly registered to vote.

If the applicant is registered under the provisions of this section, his absentee ballot, if it and the necessary affidavits and envelopes in connection therewith are properly executed and returned in accordance with the laws of this State, shall be counted as every other valid and proper absentee ballot under the laws of this State.

If the Bureau or Department determines from the absentee registration affidavit that the applicant is not an otherwise qualified voter under the laws of this State or that the affidavit is not sufficiently executed, it shall mark "rejected" on the affidavit and write thereon the reasons therefor and shall not record or enter the applicant as a duly registered elector and shall not count his or her absentee ballot.

§ 1909. Retention of absentee registration affidavits

All absentee registration affidavits received by the Bureau or Department shall be retained by it as part of its records until the next succeeding general registration.

Section 16. § 2109, Title 15 of the Delaware Code of 1953 is amended by adding at the end thereof a new paragraph to read as follows:

Unless the Registrar is required to retain registration books for appearance before a Judge or Court as provided in this section such books shall be promptly returned to the Department or Bureau after the registration day in the districts during July and after the second registration day in the districts during October.

Approved March 20, 1953.