Snyder-Hall: ‘Democracy is on ballot in Delaware’


As you might have heard on the news, people all over the country are reeling because an 1864 law banning abortion has just been reactivated by the Arizona Supreme Court. Because of Roe v. Wade, that ancient law had been deemed unconstitutional, but it was never repealed. Thus, in the wake of the Dobbs decision, which took away the right to abortion, it was restored as legitimate.

Fortunately, Delaware repealed its pre-Roe anti-abortion laws in 2017, so that cannot happen here. Delaware Code currently permits the termination of a pregnancy prior to viability to protect the life or health of the mother or in the event of serious fetal anomaly.

Delaware has not, however, amended its state constitution to eliminate Jim Crow-era restrictions on voting, including the requirement that Delawareans pass a literacy test before being eligible to vote.

During my tenure as executive director of Common Cause Delaware, I worked with allies and legislators to stop a bill that would have amended the age requirement in the constitution — currently 21 — while leaving intact the Jim Crow literacy requirement. At the time, I argued that, if the Voting Rights Act is further eroded by the U.S. Supreme Court — which is expected — that literacy requirement could be reactivated. The Arizona case illustrates how that could happen. My alarmism was justified.

Consequently, we need to amend the Delaware Constitution to eliminate Jim Crow-era language that potentially undermines the freedom to vote in the First State. We also need an amendment that would allow everyone to vote by mail if they so choose, that would eliminate absurdly early registration deadlines and that would restore early voting. Ideally, all these changes could be combined into one omnibus voting rights amendment, instead of proceeding piecemeal.

But, to get any amendments passed at all, we most likely need two additional provoter candidates in the House of Representatives. We cannot allow “Make America Great Again” forces to continue their attacks on our freedom to vote.

That is why I say that, this year, “democracy is on the ballot in Delaware.” Please remember that when you go to vote in the state primary Sept. 10 and on Nov. 5, our one and only Election Day.

Claire Snyder-Hall

Rehoboth Beach

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