A Republican candidate for attorney general has filed suit against the Delaware Department of Elections over a new law that allows voters to request and submit ballots through the mail.
The lawsuit marks the second legal challenge to Senate Bill 320, both filed in the Court of Chancery by well-known members of Delaware’s Republican Party.
Julianne Murray, a Georgetown-based lawyer challenging incumbent Attorney General Kathy Jennings, said she had been waiting to file since the legislative session ended on June 30.
“During the floor debates in both houses, members of the General Assembly said that, despite testimony that the statute is unconstitutional, they were going to pass the law and let it be sorted out in the courts,” she said. “So be it.”
Murray’s complaint was submitted on the same day as a separate lawsuit with a similar goal.
Behind the second suit is Jane Brady, Delaware’s attorney general from 1995 until 2005 and current chair of the Republican Party of Delaware.
Both assert that Senate Bill 320 created a permanent “no-excuse” absentee voting system that contradicts the Delaware Constitution.
Article V, Section 4A of the Delaware Constitution outlines the reasons a voter may submit their ballot from somewhere other than their polling place. Those reasons include being away from the state for work, college or public service, sickness or physical disability, military service or religious tenets in conflict with in-person voting.
Supporters of Senate Bill 320 argued that vote-by-mail is not the same as absentee voting, and that Article V, Section 1 of the Delaware Constitution grants the General Assembly the authority to prescribe methods of voting so as to best secure secrecy and the independence of the voter, preserve the freedom and purity of elections and prevent fraud, corruption and intimidation.
Attempts to reach the Delaware Department of Elections for comment were unsuccessful.
Murray’s complaint asserts that the Delaware Constitution must be amended if the General Assembly wishes to expand the list of excuses.
Such a change cannot be done by statute, she argues.
Murray filed the suit on behalf of three Delaware voters: Ayonne “Nick” Miles, Paul Falkowski and Nancy Smith.
According to Murray, one of them is a Democrat, one is a Republican and the other is unaffiliated. One is from New Castle County, one is from Kent and the other is from Sussex.
“This is significant because the suit is being filed for all Delawareans and is not intended to be one party against the other party,” Murray said. “At the end of the day, this affects everyone in Delaware regardless of their political persuasion.”
Plaintiff Miles said he doesn’t think the lawsuit should be perceived as an attack on mail-in voting.
“If the General Assembly wants permanent, no-excuse vote by mail, they should amend the Constitution,” Miles said. “People are going to try to make this a partisan issue and it is really nonpartisan.
Murray is seeking an expedited hearing.
“We want to get before the Court as quickly as possible,” she said.
Julianne Murray’s complaint:
Charlie Megginson covers government and politics for Town Square LIVE News. Reach him at (302) 344-8293 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @cmegginson4.
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