Court: Delaware’s Mail-In Voting Law Violates Its State Constitution

A new ruling from a Delaware judge has deemed that the state’s mail-in voting law violates the Constitution of Delaware and cannot be utilized for the upcoming November elections.

Writing for the Delaware Court of Chancery, Vice Chancellor Nathan Cook ruled on Wednesday that “the Vote-by-Mail Statute” in question violates a provision within Delaware’s constitution that details the specific circumstances under which citizens are permitted to vote by absentee ballot.

“Our Supreme Court and this court have consistently stated that those circumstances are exhaustive,” Cook wrote. “Therefore, as a trial judge, I am compelled by precedent to conclude that the Vote-by-Mail Statute’s attempt to expand absentee voting … must be rejected.”

“[I]n light of applicable and controlling precedent, I must find that the Vote-by-Mail Statute is unconstitutional for purposes of the general election,” he added.

The ruling from Cook came in response to a lawsuit filed by The Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) against Delaware’s election commissioner and Department of Elections earlier this year on behalf of a state resident. In the lawsuit, PILF alleged that the state’s laws regarding the expansion of mail-in voting and same-day voter registration violated the state’s constitution.

While Cook agreed with PILF’s legal arguments regarding the state’s mail-in voting law, the Court of Chancery judge upheld the state’s same-day voter registration statute.

Under Article V, Section 4A of the Delaware Constitution, citizens are only permitted to vote absentee for specific reasons, such as those related to “sickness or physical disability” and “absence from the district while on vacation,” among others.

According to The Washington Times, state Democrat lawmakers only introduced the vote-by-mail bill earlier this year “after failing to win Republican support to amend the constitution.”

“A constitutional amendment requires a two-thirds vote by each chamber in two consecutive General Assemblies,” the Times report reads. “The first leg of a constitutional amendment to eliminate limitations on absentee balloting cleared the legislature in 2020, after initially being defeated in the Democrat-controlled Senate, but the second leg failed to win the necessary majority in the Democrat-led House last year.”

“This ruling upheld the rule of law in Delaware when not long-ago election officials across the country were ignoring the law,” said PILF President J. Christian Adams in a press release. “This law violated the election protections in Delaware’s Constitution. Election officials must follow the law.  When laws are followed, even losers of elections can agree with the outcomes. Consent of the governed increases when the election rules are followed.”


Shawn Fleetwood is a Staff Writer for The Federalist and a graduate of the University of Mary Washington. He also serves as a state content writer for Convention of States Action and his work has been featured in numerous outlets, including RealClearPolitics, RealClearHealth, and Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @ShawnFleetwood

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