Dover Post
  • House passes bill saving ballot access for small parties

  • New registration rules would take effect after November.

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  • The House of Representatives passed legislation June 10 that would spare minor Delaware political parties in danger of being kicked off the ballot in November.
    Earlier this session, the General Assembly passed a law that more than doubles the number of voters a party must register in order to be placed on the statewide ballot.
    Rep. Earl Jaques, D-Glasgow, who sponsored the original legislation, crafted a bill that postpones the date of the required registration increase until December.
    If passed by the Senate and signed by the governor, House Bill 425 would maintain the status quo and require a party to have approximately 300 registered voters to achieve ballot status. After the election, the minimum number of registrants would increase to 612.
    Election officials said the change is necessary to keep the ballot from getting too crowded, especially since the state’s electronic voting machines have a finite number of spaces.
    But small parties said such a significant change in an election year is unfair and might not hold up in court.
    Wolfgang von Baumgart, chairman of the Independent Party of Delaware, said Jaques’ compromise bill is a welcome reprieve.
    “This is what we were after,” he said. “The whole idea of changing the rules in an election year has been frowned on by the courts.”
    However, minor parties looking for meet their registration requirements still face a challenge, since state law prohibits voters from changing their party affiliations in the months prior to the Sept. 14 primary election.
    The deadline to file for ballot status is Aug. 24, so any additional minor party registrants will have to be newly registered voters.
    Email Doug Denison at doug.denison@doverpost.com.
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