Of THE GENERAL ELECTION.
AN ACT to further provide for the Secrecy and Purity of the Ballot.
Be it enacted by The Senate and House of Representatives of The Stale of Delaware in General Assembly met:
SECTION I. That no person shall hereafter be appointed as or act and serve in the capacity of voter's assistant any general or special election hereafter to be held in this State, and the office of voter's assistant, as now provided by law, is hereby abolished. Provided, that any person who shall be physically unable to prepare, stamp or fold his ballot by reason of such defective eyesight, or the loss of the use of one or both hands, or inability to walk with safety without assistance, as manifestly renders him tillable to prepare, stamp or fold his ballot, or to reach the polling place alone with safety, shall be permitted to bring with him into the election room and booth any elector (or two electors if the nature of the disability manifestly requires more than one, such as a total disability to walk) of the polling district for the purpose of rendering him the necessary assistance. In case any elector shall feign any of such physical defects, he shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction thereof by indictment shall be fined one hundred dollars and shall be imprisoned for not more than two years.
SECTION 2. That all ballots hereafter to be printed under authority of any law of this State for use at any general or special election shall be so printed that no small square shall be placed opposite the name of any person on any ballot, and any elector desiring to vote at any such election shall stamp his ballot in the large square enclosing the device at the head of any ticket printed on the official ballot, and may cross out the name of any person appearing on the said ticket under the square so stamped by him, and if he so desires, may insert in lieu of the name so crossed out the name of any other person nominated for the same office as the person whose name is crossed out, using only a black lead pencil for such purpose. And it is hereby expressly provided that if in lieu of the name of any person so crossed out the name of any person not nominated for the office for which he is thus voted and whose name is not printed on said ballot, the ballot containing such name shall be treated as and is hereby declared to be a marked ballot and void and shall not be counted.
SECTION 3. That the challengers of the Democratic and Republican parties, respectively, chosen for any general or special election hereafter to be held, shall be peace officers of the State with the same powers for preserving the peace as inspectors of election now have, and in the election districts outside the City of Wilmington the challengers shall be stationed outside the entrance to the polling room, and shall places not be allowed inside of said room. Any person resisting such challenger or challengers shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction thereof by indictment shall be fined not more than one hundred dollars and may, at the discretion of the court, be imprisoned for a term not exceeding one year; and in the City of Wilmington the said challengers shall act as clerks of election and perform all the duties now incumbent upon the clerks of election, and before entering upon such duties shall be sworn as clerks of election are now required to be sworn to perform their duties as clerks of election, and receive compensation as such. Such clerks of election and challengers in the City of Wilmington shall be appointed by the respective County Committees of the Democratic and Republican parties, and the challengers in the election districts outside of the City of Wilmington shall be selected and named by the County Committees of the said parties.
SECTION 4. The County Committees of the Democratic selected and Republican parties in each county shall name and select each a judge of election for each election district outside of the City of Wilmington, who shall be appointed and qualified at the time and perform the duties as now provided by law of judges of election in the districts for which they are chosen respectively.
SECTION 5. That wherever in the laws of this State relating to general or special elections the words "principal political parties" now occur, or words equivalent thereto or so designating parties shall be used, the same shall be taken to designate and are hereby declared to designate the Democratic party and the Republican party.
SECTION 6. That the Democratic and Republican County Committees may each select and designate onesuitable, reputable and sober person as a special officer to stand at the entrance of the polling place, to be not less than thirty feet away from the entrance to the voting room as now provided by law, to regulate :he admission of persons to the polling place, and while so stationed and performing their duties as herein provided, the persons so designated shall be clothed with all the powers of officers of the peace as those now given by law to inspectors of election, and any person resisting such special officer shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof by indictment, shall be fined not more thou one hundred dollars and may, at the discretion of the court, be imprisoned for a term not exceeding one year.
SECTION 7. Before the hour of opening the polls on the day of election and at the time of opening the election and afterwards at any time during the day of the election and before the hour of closing the election, if any person or persons shall enter the voting room or attempt to enter the same for the purpose of interfering with the election officers in the discharge of their duties as such or for any purpose, or shall attempt to molest, disturb or prevent the election officers from proceeding regularly with any general or special election, or shall take charge of or attempt to take charge of any voting room within in the time herein mentioned for the purpose of preventing or delaying an election or for any other purpose on election day, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof shall be fined not less than three nor more than five hundred dollars, and shall be imprisoned for a term not exceeding three years, provided, that a single representative of each political party, having nominated a ticket, and such party being represented on the ballot then printed for any general or special election, may at the opening of the election be present to aid in the proper qualification of the several election officers, and to see that the ballot boxes, tickets, blanks, etc., are all in proper condition; but as soon as the election officers shall be qualified and ready to open the elections, the proper hour therefor having arrived, such representatives of each political party shall immediately retire from the election room; provided, further, that such persons may first vote before retiring if they shall so desire.
SECTION 8. That in addition to the duties now required of the clerk of the peace in said county relative to the printing and delivering of the ballots, each of said clerks of the peace shall, before delivering said ballots to the several inspectors of his county as now required by law, cause said ballots to be folded in one uniform manner in his county, in convenient form to be deposited in the ballot boxes, and so folded that no part of the face of the ballot shall be exposed.
SECTION 9. That the clerks of the elections shall write their initials in ink across the back of the ballot as folded, and near the middle thereof, in lieu of the manner in which they have heretofore been required to do; and the voter before leaving the booth or compartment shall fold his ballot as near as he can in the same manner in which it was handed to him; but failing to do this he must fold it so that no part
of the face thereof shall be exposed and so that the initials of the clerks of election shall be exposed.
SECTION 10. In case any elector who may be selected to assist any person by reason of the physical defects hereinabove mentioned shall reveal how such elector has voted or what person or persons were voted for by him on any ballot or give any information concerning the appearance of any ballot voted, such elector or electors so offending shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction thereof by indictment shall be fined one hundred dollars and shall be imprisoned not less than one nor more than three years.
SECTION 11. That if any inspector of election, judge of election, clerk of election or challenger, shall in any way or manner or by any means or device whatsoever make known or communicate by any means whatsoever or shall attempt to make known or communicate by any means whatsoever, to any person or persons on election day while the election is in progress, or at any time thereafter, how any elector has or shall have voted, he shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction thereof he shall he fined not less than one hundred dollars and may, in the discretion of the court, be imprisoned for a term not exceeding one year.
SECTION 12. That if any person other than the election officers shall secrete or attempt to secrete himself in any part of the polling room during the hours of the election for any purpose whatsoever he shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction thereof he shall be fined not less than one hundred dollars, and may in the discretion of the court be imprisoned for a term not exceeding one year.
SECTION 13. If any clerk of the peace, inspector of election, judge of election, clerk of election or challenger, shall wilfully violate any of the provisions of this act in the performance of any duty herein imposed upon him for the violation of which no other punishment is now provided by law, he shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction thereof he shall be fined not less (than*) three nor more than five hundred dollars and may in the discretion of the court be imprisoned for a term not exceeding two years.
SECTION 14. That all acts or parts of acts inconsistent with this act are hereby repealed.
Passed at Dover, May 20, 1897.