CHAPTER 173

RELATING TO ABSENTEE VOTING

AN ACT TO AMEND CHAPTER 55, TITLE 15 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO ABSENTEE VOTING.

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

Section 1. § 5504, Title 15 of the Delaware Code, is amended by striking out and repealing said section as it now appears and inserting in lieu thereof a new § 5504 to read as follows :

§ 5504. Affidavits required of persons applying for absentee ballots

(a) Any elector desiring to receive an absentee ballot because of sickness or physical disability shall cause an affidavit to be filed with the Department of Elections in the county in which such elector's election district is located, subscribed and sworn to before an officer authorized by law to administer oaths, by a person authorized to practice medicine or surgery under the laws of this State, and dated not more than 30 days prior to the next ensuing general election, to the effect that such elector is unable to go to the polling place in his or her election district at the forthcoming general election because of sickness or physical disability, or that the sickness or physical disability of such elector will make it dangerous to the life or health of such elector to go to the polling place in his or her election district at the forthcoming general election. Such affidavit shall be filed with the Department of Elections before the Department shall mail or deliver to such elector the official ballot, envelopes, or instructions as provided in this chapter.

(a) Any elector desiring to receive an absentee ballot because of his business or occupation shall cause an affidavit to be filed with the Department of Elections in the county in which such elector's election district is located, subscribed and sworn to before an officer authorized by law to administer oaths, by his employer, if any, or by the elector himself if he is self-

employed, and dated not more than 30 days prior to the next ensuing general election, stating the nature of his business or occupation, the reason why he cannot be in his election district on the day of the general election, his expected location, including his address and telephone number to be used for the purpose of challenge on election day, and that by reason of his business or occupation he cannot and will not be present in his election district on the day of the general election. Such affidavit shall be filed with the Department of Elections before the Department shall mail or deliver to such elector the official ballot, envelopes, or instruction as provided in this chapter.

Section 2. § 5517, Title 15 of the Delaware Code is amended by striking out and repealing said section and by inserting and enacting a new § 5517 to read as follows :

§ 5517. Challenges

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 further, the vote of any absentee voter may be challenged on the ground that the affidavit filed by the voter in accordance with § 5504 is false, and in the case of a voter who was allegedly absent from his Election District because of his business or occupation, on the ground that he was not absent from his Election District for the entire day of the general election. Upon challenge, proceedings thereon shall be as provided by the general election laws.

Section 3. § 5511, Title 15 of the Delaware Code is amended by striking out and repealing said section and by inserting and enacting in lieu thereof a new § 5511 to read as follows :

§ 5511. Time limit for return of ballot; late ballots

The absentee voter shall 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 4. § 5513, Title 15 of the Delaware Code is amended by striking out and repealing said section and by inserting and enacting in lieu thereof a new § 5513 to read as follows :

§ 5513. Special carrier envelopes used to convey absentee ballot to polling place; form

The special carrier envelope in which the absentee ballots are placed when returned by the absentee voter 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 envelop 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.

Section 5. § 5514, Title 15 of the Delaware Code is amended by striking out and repealing said section and by inserting and enacting in lieu thereof a new § 5514 to read as follows :

§ 5514. Delivery of absentee ballots to polling places

When an absentee voter's ballot is received by any Department of Elections, the voucher envelope containing the marked ballot, sealed in the special carrier envelope of the Department,

shall be enclosed and sealed in a package and safely kept in its office until the day of the election and delivered to the election district in which the absentee voter, as so indicated by the voter, is a resident, after noon on the day of the election and at least two hours before the closing of the polls.

Any member of the Department, in person or by a duly deputized agent, shall deliver all such absentee voters ballots separately enclosed in a special carrier envelope to the Inspector of Election at the polls of the respective election districts of the absentee voters, taking the receipt of the respective Inspectors for the delivery of such a ballot or ballots.

Section 6. Chapter 55, Title 15 of the Delaware Code is amended by adding a new section to read as follows:

§ 5515. Requirements for absentee ballots received by election officers

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 by the Department of Elections to the Inspector of such 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 Department as required by section 5512 of this title.

Section 7. Chapter 55, Title 15 of the Delaware Code is amended by adding a new section to read as follows:

§ 5516. Procedure at polling place

At any time between the opening and the closing of the polls on election day the Inspector or a Judge of Election of the 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 for the purpose of challenges and upon the determination that such person is a duly registered voter of

said election district by comparing the voter's signature upon the voucher envelope with the signature of the v_oter appearing in the Election District Record, and that such elector has not voted in person at the 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 clerks to write their names on the official envelope, and the clerks shall enter the name and address of the absentee voter on the poll lists. The 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 the elector.

All voucher envelopes from which ballots have been taken and voted, and all voucher envelopes containing ballots which have been rejected and endorsed, as provided in section 5518 of this title, shall be preserved by the Inspector, and at the close of the count shall be placed in the ballot box as provided by the general election laws.

Section 8. Chapter 55, Title 15 of the Delaware Code is amended by adding a new section to read as follows :

§ 5518. Rejected ballots

(a) In case the affidavit of the absentee voter is found to be insufficient, or the absentee voter is not a duly registered elector in such election district, or 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 the 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).

(b) Whenever it is made to appear by due proof to the Inspector and Judges of Election that any absentee voter, who has marked and forwarded his ballot, 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."

Section 9. § 5523, Title 15 of the Delaware Code is amended by adding after the words "marked ballot" the words "to the Department for delivery".

Section 10. § 5507, Title 15 of the Delaware Code is amended by adding after the paragraph ending with the word "secret" a new paragraph to read as follows :

do solemnly swear (or affirm) that

I have not received or accepted, or offered to receive or accept, paid or transferred or delivered, or offered or promised to pay, transfer or deliver, or contributed or offered or promised to contribute to another to be paid or used any money or other valuable thing as compensation, inducement or reward for the registering or abstaining from registering of any one qualified to register, or for the giving or withholding a vote at this election.

Approved May 31, 1955.