Don't trust the mail? Here's how you can vote without visiting polls
Delaware's state primary is Tuesday, and voters who still haven't mailed their absentee ballots may have to rethink how they're going to cast their votes.
The state primary is the second election this year where all eligible voters will have the chance to vote from home due to the coronavirus pandemic.
While Gov. John Carney and Elections Commissioner Anthony Albence say that Delaware's mail-in system is secure, they've urged voters who plan to mail their ballot to do it as soon as possible.
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Delaware law allowed the Elections Department to mail ballots out as late as Friday. But if you plan to vote by mail and haven't yet, you might want to rethink how you vote.
The United States Postal Service in July warned Delaware's Elections Department that the Postal Service cannot adjust its deliveries "to accommodate the requirements of state election law" and absentee voters in the general election need to receive and mail their ballots at least a week before Election Day for votes to count. That means in the case of Delaware's primary election, voters should have mailed in their ballot by this past Tuesday.
"Because it is a very tight time frame, there is always a risk that it will not be back in time," Albence said.
Unlike in July's presidential primary, the state is keeping all of its 286 polling locations open. Voters will have to report to their assigned polling place if they choose to vote in person. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday.
Delaware is a ballot-in-hand state, meaning the returned ballot has to be in the hands of elections officials by 8 p.m. on election day, which is when the polls close.
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Only registered Democrats and Republicans can vote in Delaware's primary. The deadlines to register and change parties for the state primary have passed.
The General Assembly in June passed a bill that allows universal mail-in voting for the 2020 elections so that voters would be able to cast their ballots without fear of spreading the coronavirus at the polls. Unlike Delaware's traditional absentee system, voters won't need to give an excuse to vote by mail.
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What you can do
If you haven't mailed your ballot yet, the Elections Department recommends you drop off your ballot at the elections office in the county where you live.
"Definitely consider doing that to ensure your ballot gets back on time," Albence said.
You have until 8 p.m. Tuesday to drop off your ballot at one of the following locations in order for your vote to count. Each office is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., except on Tuesday when they'll be open until 8 p.m.
Sussex County Department of Elections Office
119 N. Race St.
Georgetown DE 19947
Kent County Department of Elections Office
100 Enterprise Place
Dover DE 19904
New Castle County Department of Elections Office
Carvel State Office Building
820 North French Street
Wilmington DE 19801
*A drop box is also available in the lobby of the building, which is open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.
New Castle County Warehouse and Training Center
220 Lisa Drive
New Castle DE 19720
*The drop box is located at the south (far) end of the building.
Voters who have received mail-in ballots but find themselves second-guessing the mail-in process can still vote in person before returning their ballot.
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Those voters can go to their assigned polling place, and poll workers will contact the county's elections office and void the mail-in ballot so that the voter can vote in person. The voter can't vote in person if their mail-in ballot was already returned.
There's also still time to request your ballot by fax or email. The Elections Department is issuing faxed and emailed ballots until noon on Monday, and voters have to get those ballots back to them by 8 p.m. Tuesday. The department recommends submitting your ballot before those deadlines to avoid any hang-ups.
Voters can also cast an absentee vote in-person at the Elections Department office in the county where they live during regular hours before noon on Monday.
Need more info?
Delawareans can visit ivote.de.gov or the Delaware Department of Elections website at elections.delaware.gov for more information, including where to find a polling place.
If you don't have a computer, you can call the Department of Elections for more information on how to get ready for the primary election:
- Office of the State Election Commissioner: (302) 739-4277
- Kent County Office: (302) 739-4498
- New Castle County Office: (302) 577-3464
- Sussex County Office: (302) 856-5367
Sarah Gamard covers government and politics for Delaware Online/The News Journal. You can reach her at (302) 324-2281 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow her on Twitter @SarahGamard.