Letter to the Editor: What is intent behind nonperson/artificial entity voting change in Seaford ?


On April 11, Seaford’s mayor and City Council approved yet another proposed change to Seaford’s city charter. (This charter change still requires the approval from the General Assembly.) This charter change would add nonperson/artificial entities to the list of eligible voters for municipal elections. This (suspect) charter change was introduced and championed by Mayor David Genshaw. Even more interestingly, this proposed change was “successfully” voted through by Mayor Genshaw’s own tiebreaking vote. (Some might argue that an elected official might have considered recusing himself from a vote when so deeply vested in it.)

At the City Council meeting (March 14), while championing this proposal, Mayor Genshaw also appeared to minimize the impact of this change, as he mentioned that it might involve “a dozen” or so entities, which, in turn, would to me imply that it was not a very significant change. However, at a later City Council meeting, city manager Charles Anderson asserted that there are actually more than 200 nonperson/artificial entities in Seaford, not a “dozen.”

Upon this revelation, there were immediate requests by people at that meeting to ask questions about this issue. These requests were categorically denied by Genshaw.

I, too, had a few questions that I wanted answered. 1.) What was the mayor’s true motivation in proposing extending voting rights to nonpersons and artificial entities? 2.) How did the mayor come to say it would involve a very small amount of new votes (about a dozen) when the city manager later definitively verified this change could (potentially) create over 200 of them? 3.) How would the addition of these new 200-plus voters impact the results of elections or (possibly) how these future elections might be conducted? My questions went unanswered, as no one was allowed to speak.

To further expand on my concern regarding this proposed charter change, I would like to cite these facts. Historically, the voting turnout in recent Seaford elections (with approximately 5,000 eligible voters since mid-2021) has been extremely low: about 300 in 2019, about 600 in 2020 (a mayoral race), about 315 in 2021, about 600 in 2022 (a mayoral race) and about 340 in our most recent election, which took recently. Considering this poor turnout, I believe that the addition of over 200 “new” nonperson/artificial entity votes would very likely make a huge impact on an election outcome and not necessarily a good one for our town.

Alternatively, I believe that the mayor and City Council should prioritize their efforts to improve voter turnout by championing and directing their efforts to get our presently registered voters out to vote. Sadly, from my perspective, there has only been token effort put forth to achieve this logical and valuable goal. Citizens have offered some seemingly reasonable suggestions in the past, with the mayor and City Council dismissing them as undoable — without countering with some “doable” suggestions of their own.

But the most significant question is why?

What possibly could be the mayor’s motivation for this change? Could there be even a minor opportunity of using business (nonperson) votes in exchange for a “quid pro quo” if the vote happens to be for the “right candidate”? This (in my opinion) very real possibility gives me pause. Or perhaps, since the number of eligible voters has increased from about 1,500 to over 5,000 (due to the adoption of the state of Delaware voter registration system in mid-2021), did this increase in eligible resident voters make those in power somewhat uneasy about how to keep that power?

Incidentally, when promoting this change, our mayor mentioned that this proposed charter change was patterned off of a Delaware resort town’s similar change. To me, the fact that he was compelled to mention this was to lend credibility to this type of charter change, and that, therefore, it would be a good and viable choice for Seaford! However, it struck me as being just the opposite, and it seemed a strangely inappropriate template to follow, as Seaford is not a resort town full of second/vacation homes, and there are many other glaring differences one could think of immediately.

When considering these pointed concerns, along with a pitifully low voter turnout in Seaford, I believe that a change in eligible voter categories could very well have a significant (negative) impact and carry the opportunity for unethical influence of election results.

In conclusion, I sincerely hope the General Assembly will attempt to fully appreciate the concerns that many of us in Seaford have regarding this charter change request and vote no to this change.

Susan Allen


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