How to Vote in Delaware's 2020 Election: What You Need to Know

Posted on 07/23/20

En Espanol | Delaware has dramatically expanded mail-in ballot access this year for all registered voters who have not already requested one, allowing residents to vote safely from home amid the coronavirus pandemic. The new law applies to both the September primary and the November general election:

  • With Election Day only days away, consider dropping off your completed mail-in ballot in person. You can take your ballot to a drop box at your local election office.
  • All registered voters will be sent a mail-in ballot application by mail if they have not already requested either a mail-in or absentee ballot. The state pays the postage to return the application and ballot.
  • Election officials are recruiting poll workers to compensate for the absence of older poll workers who choose not to work during the pandemic.
  • Some polling places in nursing homes and senior centers are being relocated because of requests by the management of those facilities. Affected voters will be notified and sent an updated polling place card; you can also find your polling place online.
A man leaves a building after voting absentee in an election

Here's what else you need to know:

How do I register to vote?

Register online through the state department of elections website. You can also download the application and email, mail or fax it to the department of elections office in your county, or call the office and request a registration form.

You can also register in person at elections department offices and certain other state offices, such as the Division of Motor Vehicles. The deadline for registering to vote in the general election is Saturday, Oct. 10.

How can I get a mail-in ballot? Are there important deadlines?

Mail-in ballot applications will be sent to all registered voters for both the primaries and the general election in 2020, provided they have not already asked for an absentee or mail-in application. If you have already applied for a mail-in ballot or an absentee ballot, you won't receive another application in the mail. You can also request a mail-in ballot online or download the request form and mail or deliver it to your county's elections office — or call the office to request a mail-in ballot. Each completed ballot must be received by the county that issued it by 8 p.m. on Election Day.

Mail-in ballots are not the same thing as absentee ballots, though the process for acquiring and submitting the ballots is similar. Absentee ballot applications can be found on the state's voter portal, or you can request one by calling your county's elections office. You must provide a reason for submitting an absentee ballot, which you do not need to do for a mail-in ballot. However, voters who use absentee ballots and have been impacted by the coronavirus or who are simply practicing social distancing can provide the excuse: “I am sick or physically disabled,” per the latest state guidelines.

The application should be mailed, faxed or emailed to the election’s office. Delaware will issue absentee ballots until noon on Nov. 2. The ballots must be received by your county’s elections office by 8 p.m. on Election Day.

How do I know my mail-in ballot is secure?

Delaware is using bar-coded envelopes to ensure ballots are legitimate. Voters are required to swear their vote is legitimate and can face criminal charges for violating the law.

When is Election Day? When are polls open?

The state primary to choose nominees for governor, U.S. Senate, U.S. House and state legislative seats is Sept. 15, with polls open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. The general election for all those races and for the presidential contest is Nov. 3. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Can I vote in person before Election Day?

No, Delaware doesn't have early in-person voting this year. But a new law will allow early voting beginning in 2022.

What form of identification do I need to vote?

Poll workers will ask for proof of identity, such as a Delaware driver’s license or state ID, U.S. passport, or signed vehicle registration (a full list is here). If you don't have an acceptable ID, you'll have to fill out an affidavit.

What is being done to make polling places safe from the coronavirus?

Poll workers will be given personal protective equipment and sanitizing supplies, and will ensure social distancing. Hand sanitizer will be available for voters. In April, Gov. John Carney ordered residents to wear face masks while in public.

Will I be able to vote in the same place as I always have?

Maybe. Find your polling place on the department of elections website. The state provides accessible polling places and voting machines for people with disabilities. Voters with special needs may bring someone with them to help them vote.

What are the key races in my state?

  • U.S. President
  • Governor
  • U.S. Senate: Incumbent Sen. Chris Coons (D) vs. Lauren Witzke (R)
  • U.S. House: Delaware's sole seat

This story was updated on Oct. 29 with more information about how to drop off completed mail-in ballots in person. Voting rules and procedures may change before Election Day. We’ll update this story if they do, so bookmark this page and check back.

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AARP is urging older Americans to ask the candidates 5 key questions:

  • Just over half of all older Social Security beneficiaries rely on the program for at least 50 percent of their income. If elected, how will you ensure that current and future Social Security benefits are not cut as part of deficit reduction?
  • Half of the people with traditional Medicare spend at least a sixth of their income on health care. If elected, how will you protect Medicare from benefit cuts, as well as lower health care costs and ensure seniors continue receiving the affordable health care they have earned?
  • COVID-19 has caused death and suffering for too many older Americans who require long-term care. If elected, how will you make sure seniors can access safe and affordable long-term care at home, as well as in facilities like nursing homes and assisted living?

Also of Interest

This story is provided by AARP Delaware. Visit the AARP Delaware page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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You can find CDC’s latest coronavirus information at cdc.gov/coronavirus; AARP information and resources are at aarp.org/coronavirus. En español, visite aarp.org/elcoronavirus.

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