Central Delaware
Election Day voter registration measure unveiled

DOVER — Gov. Jack A. Markell and leadership in the state’s House of Representatives introduced measures to increase voter registration in Delaware Tuesday.

House Majority Whip, Rep. John J. Viola, D-Newark, introduced legislation that would allow Election Day voting registration.

Same-day voting registration has existed in Maine, Minnesota and Wisconsin since the 1970s, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. States that have mandated same-day registration have a voter turnout that is on average 10 percent higher than states that do not.

“The goal is to try and get as many people as you can possibly get to do their duty, their civic duty and to vote,” Rep. Viola said. “Any barriers we can take down against that we can make easier, let’s do it.”

By showing a valid government-issued photo ID, current utility bill, bank statement or other government document clearly displaying a name and address, an individual would be able to vote at a polling place on the day of a presidential, state primary, general or special election.

However, Elaine Manlove, state elections commissioner, said municipality elections are covered by charters and would not have to implement same-day registration.

Voters will have to sign an affidavit in person, and anyone who falsely registers to vote could face a fine up to $200 and a prison sentence between 30 days and two years.

Coupled with the same-day voting registration bill, Gov. Markell announced a set of proposals that would update the online voting registration system to make it possible for individuals to register to vote or update information through state agency websites, like the Department of Health and Social Services or Department of Labor through an eSignature system. The system currently is in use at the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles’ locations.

Currently prospective voters can register online, but they must either mail in the document or submit it in person to the elections for it to be counted.

By expanding the eSignature system to online voter registration, Gov. Markell said voters will appreciate the convenience and the state will see less costs in processing the registration.

“Nationwide the greatest obstacle to increase voter participation in our elections is an outmoded registration system one that is still primarily paper based in what is an increasingly online world,” Gov. Markell said.

Staff writer Jen Rini can be reached at 741-8250 or Follow DSNJen_Rini on Twitter.