Voting laws in Georgetown, South Bethany, Seaford updated

By Leann Schenke
Posted 9/5/21

DOVER — The General Assembly enacted several updates to the voting process in Georgetown, South Bethany and Seaford during its last session.

Signed by Gov. John Carney in June, Senate Bill …

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Voting laws in Georgetown, South Bethany, Seaford updated

Posted

DOVER — The General Assembly enacted several updates to the voting process in Georgetown, South Bethany and Seaford during its last session.

Signed by Gov. John Carney in June, Senate Bill 41 amends the town charter for Georgetown to “more closely align” with the state’s election requirements, the synopsis of the bill read.

The bill adjusts the amount of time permitted for residents to announce their candidacy to no less than 20 days before the filing deadline. It also “modernizes” notice requirements by allowing the town to use its website to notify the public that an election is occurring, the synopsis stated.

Tie votes in Georgetown now will be resolved by a special election, rather than by a decision made by the Board of Elections. This change, the bill’s synopsis noted, is to promote a “democratic resolution.”

Among multiple changes to South Bethany’s voting process, House Bill 84 adds a requirement that the town provide notice for residents to submit their candidacy at least 20 days prior to the town’s filing deadline.

The bill also removes the requirement that a notice of intention of candidacy be filed 45 days before the election.

The town also must now post notice that residents may file to run for office to its website and at least one newspaper of general circulation. The bill removes the requirement that notice for candidates to file be posted in five public places.

Through the bill, South Bethany Town Council is able to allow participation and voting by remote electronic access to the extent permitted by a state of emergency and the Delaware Freedom of Information Act, the bill’s synopsis read.

The bill also revises its language in reference to who is able to vote. In addition to changing the term “freeholders” to “property owners” within the town’s charter, the act removes “spouse of freeholder” as a qualification to vote in local elections.

The bill denies trusts, corporations, partnerships and limited liability corporations the right to vote in South Bethany.

Persons wishing to cast a vote must now present proof of their identity and address — however, personal recognition of a voter by a majority of election officers at the polling place also is permitted through the bill.

The date of the annual election for municipal offices in South Bethany was changed to the second Saturday in May.

There are now provisions in place that bar members of the Board of Elections from being elected officials as well as immediate family members of elected officials.

The bill also revised the definition of “resident of town” to include anyone who has physically resided within town limits for at least 30 days prior to the election.

In Seaford, House Bill 34 amended the city charter for elections, registration of voters, appointment of non-elected officials and the month elected officials are sworn into office.

Through the bill, the city no longer has the option of publishing notification of candidates for mayor or city council by posting the names in five public places. Instead, the city will need to distribute this information to a newspaper of local or general circulation.

Effective for the 2022 municipal elections, those wishing to register to vote in Seaford will be able to do so through the Delaware Department of Elections’ voter registration system.

The bill also states the mayor-elect and councilpersons-elect will now be sworn into office on the second Tuesday of May, a change from March, following the annual election.