J. Christian Adams, DCNF
On July 24, Delaware Gov. John Carney signed a law allowing mail-in voting and same-day registration. Delaware’s Constitution doesn’t allow an unsupervised election or same-day registration. The Public Interest Legal Foundation, of which I am the President, is suing the state and fighting for the rule of law in elections.
The Delaware Constitution has only a few circumstances when a mail ballot is permitted. Some might want the list to be longer, but the Constitution is the supreme law of the state. The newly enacted mail voting law flatly ignores the requirements of the Constitution.
Additionally, the newly passed law spreads out the election and the counting of ballots over weeks. Again, the Delaware Constitution specifies that elections must take place on a single day — the second Tuesday in November.
The Delaware Constitution isn’t some quaint old advisory document. It represents the supreme will of the people of Delaware. It lays down democratically enacted requirements passed by the people and the people’s representatives. If the people want to change it, then they must change it.
The legislature can’t pass a law that conflicts with the will of the people in the Delaware Constitution.
This new election day registration law invites chaos. Pre-registration for voters is a good government reform enacted long ago to allow for the smooth conduct of elections. For example, it ensures that election officials can ensure only the eligible are registered and that voters get the correct ballot with the correct local races. That’s why the Delaware Constitution speaks to how elections must be run.
The Public Interest Legal Foundation’s client, Michael Mennella, is an Inspector of Elections in Delaware. He is directly harmed by the same-day registration law because it forces him to choose between enforcing the Constitution of Delaware or the new law. He is being put in the difficult position of violating his oath to uphold the constitution. By violating his oath, Mennella could be fined and even face prison time.
It’s plain and simple. Delaware’s Constitution does not allow unsupervised mail voting and election day voter registration.
Everyone benefits when we follow the rules about how to conduct elections. People who lose elections are more likely to accept the results if the rules were followed. We have learned recently that the consent of the governed is a precious and precarious thing. Rules, decided in advance and in conformity with the law, encourages even the losers to accept the results.
Unfortunately, courts are finding that the rules were not always followed in 2020.
Earlier this month, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that the drop boxes used in the 2020 election were unlawful. Under Wisconsin law, drop boxes are illegal. The law requires absentee ballots to be returned by mail or the voter must personally deliver it to the municipal clerk.
Additionally, a Pennsylvania court struck down the commonwealth’s mail balloting law that allowed no-excuse absentee voting. This universal mail voting law violated the Pennsylvania Constitution. The Commonwealth’s Constitution requires a person to vote on Election Day unless they meet certain criteria.
Delaware, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania are violating their own election laws and Constitutions. This worrying trend of states violating election procedures is dangerous. When election laws are suspended and not followed, it leads to distrust in results and chaos.
Basic election integrity requires that election officials uphold state election laws. Elections need to be conducted by the book, so the American people can trust the results.
Christian Adams is the President of the Public Interest Legal Foundation, a former Justice Department attorney, and current commissioner on the United States Commission for Civil Rights.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.
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