Tuesday is at long last Election Day, the apex of a lengthy voting season in which millions of Americans have already cast their votes, and results might not be settled until well after Tuesday.
Here’s what you need to know.
How to vote
Polls in Delaware are open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday. The Department of Elections maintains a webpage where you can input your address and find your polling location.
One big issue has been in remote voting, also known as voting by mail and absentee voting.
As of Friday, 133,000 remote votes by Delaware’s 735,000 registered voters had been submitted, according to Delaware Democratic Party Chairman Erik Raser-Schramm. That’s already 100,000 more than the votes cast that way in 2016.
Delaware requires all votes to submitted by 8 p.m. Tuesday, so if you requested a vote-by-mail ballot, it’s too late to take it to the post office.
There’s still time to drop off your vote-by-mail ballot – sealed in the official envelope, and signed on the outside of that envelope – in boxes at the county office that issued your ballot.
All these offices are open until 8 p.m. Tuesday: Carvel State Office Building, Ninth and French streets, Wilmington, with the box in the lobby; New Castle County Office Warehouse & Training Center, with the box at south (far) end of building entrance; Kent County offices, 100 Enterprise Place, Suite 5, Dover, with boxes by the front entrance and warehouse doors; and Sussex County offices, Race and Depot streets, with the box in the door adjacent to the Race Street parking lot.
“Ballots may NOT be dropped off at polling places,” the elections department says with an all-caps emphasis.
If you have requested a vote-by-mail ballot and don’t want to use it, you can still vote in person. The department explains: When you arrive at your polling place, an election officer will confirm via the poll book that your vote-by-mail ballot has not been returned. Your unreturned vote-by-mail ballot will be voided, and you will be allowed to vote in person at the polling place.
Your voting rights
“The Delaware Department of Justice, state and local law enforcement and the Department of Elections will strictly enforce Delaware’s voter intimidation laws in order to ensure that Delawareans are able to vote safely, fairly and peacefully,” Attorney General Kathleen Jennings announced Oct. 27.
The Department of Justice, the Department of Elections, the Department of Safety and Homeland Security, the Delaware State Police, the Delaware Information & Analysis Center, the National Guard and the Delaware Emergency Management Agency, among others, are coordinating “a robust election protection strategy.”
Her announcement are also enumerated multiple rights:
• If you are registered to vote, you are entitled to vote.
• You can’t be coerced, threatened, hindered or intimidated by any person or corporation when voting.
• You can vote if you are in line when polls close at 8 p.m.
• If you make a mistake on your ballot, you can ask a poll worker for a new one.
• If voting machines are down at your polling place, you can ask for a paper ballot.
• If your name isn’t in the poll book, you can still vote with a provisional ballot. You’ll be notified in writing when you vote as to how you can find out whether your vote was counted, and if not, why not.
• If you are blind or physically disabled, you can bring up to two people to help you vote.
• If you moved or changed your name without telling the Department of Elections, you can vote at the polling place of your address on Election Day by correcting your address on Election Day before you vote.
• If you need help in the voting booth, two elections officers from different parties have to help at the same time. They cannot influence your decision, and they must leave the voting booth before you cast your vote.
• Electioneering laws specifically pertain to advocacy for candidates, partisan topics, and “issues on the ballot”; voters are free to enter voting rooms while wearing T-shirts or slogans relating to non-partisan issues (e.g., “Black Lives Matter” or “Blue Lives Matter”).
• All polling places should be physically accessible. Voters with disabilities, including voters who are blind, are entitled to at least one accessible voting machine at the polling place under the Help America Vote Act.
• Voters who are blind, sick, and temporarily or physically disabled can request electronic delivery of an accessible absentee ballot via Democracy Live.
• Campaign staff and volunteers are allowed to contact voters in person or by phone, irrespective of “No Soliciting” signs, but are also prohibited from doing so within 50 feet of the entrance to a polling location.
What results to expect
Delaware has 735,000 registered voters. The largest groups are Democrats (351,000), Republicans (204,000) and those declining to register with any party (164,000). The next biggest categories are the Independent Party of Delaware (8,000), Libertarians (2,000) and nonpartisan (1,000).
In New Castle County, there more than twice as many Democrats as Republicans. In Kent County, there are far more Democrats. In Sussex County, there are slightly more Republicans.
A University of Delaware poll released on Oct. 5 shows Joe Biden and incumbent Democrats in statewide offices leading in all their races.
In 2016, 65.3% of eligible voters voted, but national predictions are for a far larger turnout this year.
In September’s primary, voter turnout was 32.26%. For the Democrats, more than half of the ballots were cast absentee. For the Republicans, less than a quarter of ballots were cast absentee.
After the voting ends
In many previous elections, Delaware has been able to post preliminary results on Election Night on its website, with official results coming later.
The well-respected number-crunching FiveThirtyEight says Delaware is one of 16 states where “nearly all” votes will be counted on Election Night. Eleven states – including unpredictable and important Pennsylvania – will have “only some” votes counted on Election Night. The rest are expected to have “most but not all” votes counted on Election Night.
Return Day, Delaware’s centuries-old tradition of marking the end of the electioneering season, has been put on hold by the pandemic, with the promise to return to Georgetown in 2022.