GOVERNMENT

Bill to consolidate state and presidential primaries clears Delaware House

Legislation awaits consideration in Senate

By Joseph Edelen
Posted 6/24/24

Delaware has one of the latest primary elections in the nation.

This year, it falls on Sept. 10, less than two months before the Nov. 5 general and presidential elections.

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GOVERNMENT

Bill to consolidate state and presidential primaries clears Delaware House

Legislation awaits consideration in Senate

Posted

DOVER — Delaware has one of the latest primary elections in the nation.

This year, it falls on Sept. 10, less than two months before the Nov. 5 general and presidential elections.

So, lawmakers in the state House of Representatives are working to move the primary up, in an effort that centers on improving voting rights.

House Bill 400, sponsored by Rep. Stephanie T. Bolden, D-Wilmington, would move Delaware’s primary election from the second Tuesday after the first Monday in September to the fourth Tuesday of April.

That would align primary elections for statewide, county and municipal offices to the same day the First State holds its presidential primary.

“(House Bill) 400 is a voter rights bill that makes it easier to vote, causing less confusion, increasing voter participation, (providing) a wider window for those who are serving in the military and living abroad,” Rep. Bolden said on the House floor Tuesday. “But most of all, and very important, it saves the state $1.8 million.”

More than 19 states have written laws that hinder one’s ability to cast a vote at the polls, she continued. So, she has introduced HB 400 a number of times and has been successful in her efforts in the House chamber in 2016, 2017, 2019, 2020, 2022 and 2023, she said. But it has yet to receive similar approval in the Senate.

“This is not my bill; this is a bill that is for the voters of the state of Delaware,” Rep. Bolden said, “(so) that we are able to vote and not be disenfranchised because of changes in the vote — from a Tuesday, from a Saturday to a Tuesday, from a Saturday to a Thursday — because … the primary fell on … that day.”

Her proposal once again passed the chamber Tuesday, in unanimous fashion. It has now been assigned to the Senate Executive Committee for consideration.

Sunday is the final day of the 152nd General Assembly’s session, but, as of Monday afternoon, the bill was not scheduled for debate in the Executive Committee.

In the House, the legislation has consistently received bipartisan support, with House Minority Whip Lyndon Yearick, R-Magnolia, shining a light on why it’s necessary last week.

“Having a primary that’s in September, where the main event is, … we could have two excellent candidates in a primary, then … the winner has to have a turnaround (of) two months to run for the general election,” he said Tuesday. “Just the combination of the presidential primary … makes practical sense, in addition to the financial aspect that saves the state money.”

Last year, Rep. Bolden’s bill passed the House before being defeated in the Senate on the final day of the session. It lost with three lawmakers voting no and 18 opting not to vote.

During this last week of the 2024 session, the General Assembly will meet Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

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