“A Chancery Court judge has ruled Delaware’s new mail-in voting provision unconstitutional,” Delaware Live reports.
“In an 87-page memorandum opinion issued Wednesday afternoon, Vice Chancellor Nathan Cook said allowing mail-in voting in the Nov. 8 general election ‘will result in the dilution of constitutional votes with unconstitutional votes,’” the outlet adds.
BREAKING: A Delaware judge ruled Wednesday that a new vote-by-mail law enacted earlier this year is unconstitutional and that voting by mail cannot be used in the November election. https://t.co/Y7hOWjwEj6 pic.twitter.com/AMTXwtkVNs
— Newsmax (@newsmax) September 15, 2022
🚨ALERT: Delaware judge rules no-excuse mail-in voting violates the state constitution, but upholds same-day voter registration following lawsuits brought by Republicans. The ruling requires Delaware voters to have an excuse to vote by mail this fall. https://t.co/YFj8vWaXCr
— Democracy Docket (@DemocracyDocket) September 15, 2022
Cook issued an injunction that will prevent the Department of Elections from accepting applications for no-excuse absentee ballots.
“…if I were to not enjoin the Vote-by-Mail Statute, then the courts would be faced with the impossible task of ‘unscrambling the eggs’ of an election undermined by unconstitutional votes,” Cook wrote.
“Given these considerations, Plaintiffs will suffer irreparable injury if the Vote-by-Mail Statute is not enjoined and doing so is necessary in the interests of justice.”
“…Furthermore, the fact that votes will be cast under this unconstitutional law means that the election will not be conducted in strict accordance with our Constitution,” he wrote.
“As Plaintiffs note, it would be ‘virtually impossible’ to unwind the election.”
More from Delaware Live:
Cook said that although Delawareans have an “indisputably strong interest” in voting for their chosen slate of candidates, they have an equally strong interest in the election being held in compliance with constitutional constraints.
Delaware has a strong policy in favor of its citizens “robustly exercising” their right to vote, Cook said, and he acknowledged that voters may be unable to exercise their right to vote for numerous reasons, including because they are working on election day or suffer resource constraints.
“My thoughts on the policy underlying the Vote-by-Mail Statute, however, are fairly irrelevant,” he wrote. “Delaware precedent — at least as it stands today — requires me to issue an injunction.”
The ruling has no effect on Tuesday’s primary election. The Department of Elections, which declined to comment Wednesday, is all but certain to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of Delaware.
In the same opinion, Cook upheld the state’s new same-day voter registration law.
Delaware Republican Party chairwoman Jane Brady and Republican candidate for attorney general Julianne Murray are behind the suits.
Julianne Murray, an attorney for plaintiffs challenging the vote-by-mail statute, said she was glad that the judge carefully studied Delaware’s constitution and court precedent in making his determination.
“He started on the Constitutional Convention of 1897 and worked his way through,” said Murray, who is the Republican nominee for attorney general in November.
Jane Brady, a retired judge and former Delaware attorney general who also represented plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said mail-in voting “does not comport with the constitution.”
“I believe that the legislature has known from day one that they needed a constitutional amendment to do this,” she added, noting that lawmakers acknowledged during debate on the legislation that it could likely face a court challenge.
“In my view, they abdicated their responsibility,” said Brady, who is also chair of the state Republican Party.