2020 election: What to know about mail-in voting in Delaware
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With Delaware holding expanded vote-by-mail this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, here's some basic information about the process.
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 coronavirus at the polls. Unlike Delaware's traditional absentee system, voters won't need to give an excuse to vote by mail.
The state plans on keeping all of its polling places open for the election while maintaining social distancing and sanitation at the polls.
How do I get a ballot?
Mail-in ballots are optional and aren't mailed automatically, but the state has been mailing applications for mail-in ballots to registered Democrats and Republicans for this election.
The Office of Elections began mailing out ballots to those who requested them in early October. If you’re sending in your ballot request in less than 30 days prior to the election, your country elections office will get your vote-by-mail ballot out to you as soon as possible.
The deadline to issue mail ballots is Oct. 30.
If you didn't get a ballot application in the mail, you can request it by fax, email or online at https://ivote.de.gov.
Don't wait too long
Delaware officials have urged Delawareans who are voting in the 2020 elections to return their mail-in ballots promptly.
Earlier this year, Gov. John Carney told Delawareans planning to submit their ballots by mail to "do it early so that there is no question about the processing."
"We want to make it easier for people to exercise their right to vote, and to do it safely," Carney said. "Don't make the decision not to vote because you're afraid of going to a polling place and catching the virus, particularly if you're in that vulnerable population."
You can change your mind
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. 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.
Voters can also drop off their mail-in ballot themselves at the elections office of the county that they live in.
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.
What can go wrong?
More than 1,000 votes during the state primary weren't counted because they didn't follow proper protocol.
According to Delaware Elections Commissioner Anthony Albence, 821 mail-in ballots arrived too late and were not counted in the official election results. Meanwhile, 203 mail-in ballots didn't have the voter's signature, and also weren't counted.
Nervous about the mail? Here's where you can drop off your ballot
If you're nervous about the Post Office getting your ballot getting to the Elections Department on time, you can drop it off yourself at the elections office of the county that you live in.
Each office is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Sussex County Department of Elections Office
119 N. Race Street
P.O. Box 457
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.
New Castle County Warehouse and Training Center
220 Lisa Dr
New Castle DE 19720
*The drop box is located at the south (far) end of the building
Karl Baker and Jeff Neiburg contributed to this report.
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.