RD20 Democratic Committee, Executive Committee with Sussex County Election Officials, August 3, 2020
Questions and answers about the 2020 voting process in Delaware
1) Questions are focused on:
a) Helping the RD20 residents understand the new processes;
b) Help them be comfortable in the reliability of the voting processes; and
c) Explore how we can help improve the execution if there is a role for the RD20.
2) Upcoming vote by mail (VBM) process
a) What is the correct terminology for referring to the different types of early and in-person voting available the rest of this year? (e.g., Absentee, VBM, vote by email, in-person, others?)
i) Terminology is: Absentee voting, Vote by Mail, In-Person voting and electronic vote delivery
b) Please explain the process & schedule
• VBM adds a voting tool for voters, it does not replace Absentee voting.
• VBM process and functionally is like Absentee voting
• Current VBM legislation provides that this capability is valid through January 12, 2021.
• A DE Constitutional amendment passed by the recent DE Legislature removes the restrictions on and the need for voters to provide a reason for requesting an Absentee ballot. If the next DE Legislature passes the amendment it will take effect.
• Absentee voting
(a) Remains unchanged from before the VBM legislation passage
(b) If a registered voter previously requested to vote by Absentee ballot for all elections this year, they will receive an Absentee ballot prior to each election. There is no additional request they need to submit.
(c) Electronic delivery remains an option under Absentee voting, particularly for registered voters located outside the USA.
• Vote by Mail
(a) HB 346 was passed by the legislature and signed by Governor Carney implementing the VBM capability.
(b) Each registered voter that has no Absentee ballot request on file will be mailed an application to request a VBM ballot.
(c) Absentee and VBM ballots can be returned by mail or to a county Dept. of Elections office.
i) For each of the two upcoming elections when will VBM and Absentee applications be mailed out?
• Absentee ballots were sent out recently, approximately 45 days before the upcoming election.
• Vote by Mail applications were also sent out recently, but ballots won’t be mailed out until 30 days before the election per the recent law.
ii) When are each type of ballot due back to the Dept. of Elections?
• All ballots must be received by the Dept. of Elections by 8:00pm on election day.
• Ballots submitted by mail must be received by the Dept. of Elections by 8:00pm on election day.
• Ballots can be hand delivered to the Dept. of Elections on election day by 8:00pm.
• Ballots cannot be dropped at a polling location, only the county Dept. of Elections offices.
iii) How will the voting by email process be implemented for the two upcoming elections?
• The process for electronic delivery of a ballot remains unchanged.
iv) What improvements have the Dept of Elections put in place to counter the concerns about relying on the USPS for ballot delivery? e.g., More than one drop-off location per county? Outbound and return ballot tracking? etc.
• Ballots can be dropped off at the Dept. of Elections office in each county, until the polls close on an election day.
• Dept. of Elections is working closely with the USPS to ensure timely delivery of all ballots submitted via mail.
v) Who can drop off a ballot at a Dept of Elections box? Can one person drop off multiple ballots?
• Anyone can drop off ballots at the Dept. of Elections offices.
• One person can drop off multiple pre-sealed & pre-signed ballots in the envelope provided with the ballot.
vi) Absentee vs VBM
• Why has Absentee voting been continued with the implementation of VBM?
(a) The legislation passed by the legislature & signed into effect by the Governor just added the VBM capability and did not try to change the existing Absentee voting capability.
• Why does VBM appear to use a slightly different process and dates?
(a) Any differences between VBM and Absentee voting are minor. The differences are a result of how the legislature wrote the legislation.
• How prevent voters from being confused and not vote?
(a) Outreach is planned via newspapers and online media as well as in the mailing sent to those without a ballot request already received.
• VBM applications for the State Primary are being delivered now. Will another application be sent for the General Election if no response received before primary?
(a) Yes, prior to the General Election (in early September) a VBM application will be sent for the General Election to all eligible voters. Those who have already requested an absentee ballot, including permanent absentee voters, as well as those who have already requested a VBM ballot for the General Election, will not receive this mailing.
vii) May a registered voter that requests a ballot for mail in voting, Absentee or VBM, then decide to vote in person if they have not returned their ballot?
• Yes, they may. Those who have requested an Absentee or VBM ballot for the election may decide to vote in person. When the voter arrives at the polling place, the poll worker will see, after checking in the voter on the pollbook, that the voter has requested an Absentee or VBM ballot. The poll workers are instructed to contact the county elections office in these cases. The voter's unreturned Absentee or VBM ballot will be voided (in case it was to be returned later, it would not be counted), and the voter would be allowed to vote at the polling place.
c) Vote counting resources
i) What are the estimates for the three (or four) ways a ballot can be submitted for the state primary and general election?
• The Dept. of Elections is expecting as many as 50% or more voters who participate will use the VBM or Absentee ballot for each election. State-wide almost 50% of the votes were cast via the updated Absentee voting process in place at the time (note: the new VBM capability was not available for the Presidential Primary.)
ii) What extra resources will be in place for the non-in-person types of voting?
• Staff and ballot counting resources have been added, staff hours extended, as well as the ballot handling processes have been updated to make the counting process more efficient. VBM and Absentee ballots still will not be counted until the polls close on election day, per state law.
iii) What is being done to have timely, same-day voting results for both elections?
• The staff and counting resources described immediately above will be used to deliver timely ballot counts, like past elections.
d) Absentee and VBM ballots reporting
i) How are reporting of VBM ballot requests, ballots and logging handled vs. Absentee ballot requests and ballots?
• The Dept. of Elections has worked with each of the major political parties in Delaware to develop a weekly reporting process.
• You will now be able to distinguish between VBM, Regular Absentee, and Military/Overseas ballots.
ii) Will each ballot-type be reported differently in Party & candidate updates?
• Yes, see the answer immediately above.
iii) How soon after mail-in ballots are received will they be reported as received and the information available to the Parties and Candidates?
• For ballots received ahead of the election?
(a) See answer above.
(b) The Dept. of Elections is targeting to have the weekly reports include ballots received through the prior day.
• Ballots received on election day.
(a) The reporting process on election day is still being developed. The Dept. of Elections is planning to issue integrated reports showing all categories of ballots received in the same report.
(b) Dept. of Elections hopes to have at least two, and possibly more, interim updates distributed on election day. Compiling and integrating the different vote types is still a manual process and can take some effort to collect, integrate and distribute. The Dept. of Elections is still working on improving this process.
e) Election day ballot submission reporting
i) On Election Day how will campaigns & Parties receive updates on who has cast a ballot?
(a) See the above answers for this question and the questions immediately below.
• Will there be real-time ballot submission reporting for all 3 (or 4) ways a voter can submit their ballot? (See the above.)
• Will data on both types of mail-in ballots submitted be available via the same reporting system as for in-person voters? (e.g., for GOTV efforts) (See the above.)
3) Election day in RD20
a) Which voting locations will be open?
i) Each ED of RD20 will have an assigned polling location. Seven of the 10 locations will be those used for the 2018 elections. The three changes for RD20 are:
• ED01 will be voting at Milton Elementary School (which is temporarily in the old H.O. Brittingham School Building), 400 Mulberry St, Milton
• ED07 will be voting at Shields Elementary School (not the Lewes School or the Virden Center). Note, ED07 will be using the same polling location as ED05 but in a different room (but likely sharing the parking lot). The plan for using the Virden Center didn’t work out.
• ED09 will be voting at Mariner Middle School (temporary move from the Milton Fire House)
• A complete list of voting locations can be found on the Dept. of Elections website at:
ii) Note, for clarity, ED03, will be voting at the new H.O. Brittingham Elementary School, 402 Mulberry St., Milton, which is located behind the
building labeled Milton Elementary School (which is temporarily in the old H.O. Brittingham School Building)
b) New polling locations
i) At least three EDs in RD20 will use new, possibly temporary locations. This combined with the inadequate signage at some locations for the Presidential Primary gives us concern. With whom can we discuss and request changes to the plans for signage at each RD20 location?
ii) When & frequency of notices to all voters informing of the new locations?
(a) Polling place notification cards will be mailed out prior to the primary election. They couldn’t recall the specific date when they would be mailed.
iii) Will signs be put up at the prior, long time voting locations, redirecting voters to the new location?
• Not in the current plan but willing to consider it.
c) What are the plans for, and status of, poll staffing for each upcoming election?
i) A full complement of poll workers is planned for each voting location. Recruiting is going well.
d) ED 05 has seen significant growth since the 2016 General Election (registered voters increased from 3,553 to 5,130 since Nov. 8, 2016, an increase of 1,555 voters or 44%). What changes in the voting resources will be in place at ED 05/Shields Elementary?
i) Yes, the Shields location is going to be crowded, especially for parking since two EDs will be using it. They are open to suggestions for other facilities to consider.
e) What social distancing policies will be in place at voting locations and how will this affect Challengers located inside each polling location?
i) Requirements include everyone wearing a mask, and staying 6’ apart, including Challengers being 6’ away from the Poll Books. Challengers won’t have access to the wireless network used by the Dept. of Elections system at a polling location (for security reasons, not due to the COVID-19 pandemic). So wireless access may require cellular connected devices if connectivity is desired.
ii) For the Primary, Challengers are requested or coordinated through the individual candidate campaigns (one Challenger per candidate per polling location)
iii) For the General Election the Challengers are requested by or coordinated through the political parties, one person per party per polling location.
4) Currently the Election Commission makes available registered voter data to the Parties and others according to DE law. Every 1 to 3 months the version distributed by CD, the format of the Excel files changes. When will it be standardized and documented?
a) Sussex County Election Commission expects the Excel file format to remain unchanged now. He will work on obtaining a more complete description of the fields in the Excel file.