Dewey Beach’s antiquated paper records to identify qualified voters is now a thing of the past. At its April 6 meeting, Dewey Beach Town Council voted unanimously to approve amendments to the town code to allow electronic voter registration.
“I’m here with final proposal,” said election committee Chairwoman Beverly Corelle. “All I can say is, ‘Hooray.’”
For Corelle, the years-long task of establishing an electronic system began when she first volunteered for Dewey Beach Board of Elections during the town council election in September 2009. She was handed the arduous task of confirming voter eligibility using paper records.
When the elections committee was formed in 2010, Corelle became its co-chair. In 2011, she began the process of establishing an electronic voter registration system for the town’s 2,300 eligible voters.
At a February 2011 town meeting, Corelle asked council for funding for the project. Council said it had no spare funds to give the committee, but Dewey Beach volunteers rallied to help.
Residents David King and Betsy Damos donated a new computer with a remote back-up system; former Commissioner Jim Laird volunteered to pay for the software program the committee needed; former Town Webmaster Dick Cleaveland told Corelle he would design a voter registration database.
The committee launched the new system during the September 2012 election cycle; paper records were kept on hand as back up.
The next town election is scheduled Saturday, Sept. 21. Unregistered voters have until Monday, July 15 to register their names in the new electronic system.
Dewey Beach is one of several towns in Sussex County in that it allows nonresidents to vote in the annual town elections. Under the amendments, new property owners will have to provide evidence to Town Hall proving their eligibility to vote, such as property records.
“New owners will not be automatically registered,” Corelle said. “It won’t impact anybody who already owns now; it’s for the future.”
“We feel good about what we’re bringing to you,” Corelle said of the ordinance.
Corelle was recognized for her efforts in January, when town council named her Volunteer of the Year.
“I want to thank you for recognizing me, individually as volunteer of the year,” Corelle said at the April meeting. “But I take that also as your appreciation for the work of the committee and for our getting this project through completion.”