Absentee ballots set to determine Rehoboth election

Two mayoral candidates; four candidates for two commissioner seats in Aug. 8 election
August 5, 2020

Story Location:
Rehoboth Beach Convention Center
229 Rehoboth Avenue
Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971
United States

Rehoboth Beach’s 2020 municipal election takes place Saturday, Aug. 8, and no matter the results, it’s already been historic.

During a Board of Election meeting Aug. 3,  Chair Stephen Simmons said of the 1,739 registered voters for this year’s election, 1,189 requested absentee ballots. He said 913 had already been returned.

This number of absentee ballots is roughly three times more than the next previous high, said Simmons. According to information from the city’s election department, in 2017, the last mayoral race, there were 436 absentee ballots returned.

There are six candidates in this year’s race. In the mayoral race, incumbent Mayor Paul Kuhns is facing off against former Commissioner Stan Mills. Rehoboth’s charter requires the mayor to be a bona fide resident and domiciliary of the city.

In the race for commissioner, there are four candidates for two open seats - Purple Parrot owner Hugh Fuller, former Commissioner Patrick Gossett, former Commissioner Jay Lagree, and Rachel Macha, a member of the planning commission, and parks and shade tree commission. Fuller and Gossett are running as nonresidents. Lagree and Macha are running as residents. Sitting Commissioners Lisa Schlosser and Steve Scheffer are not running for re-election.

The polls for in-person voting are open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Typically, said Simmons, absentee ballot counters begin counting the stack of ballots in the afternoon, 25 at a time. To account for this year’s large number of absentee ballots, during the recent meeting, the board voted to begin counting at 11 a.m.

Simmons said if ballot counters finish early they’ll keep a group of ballots unopened until the polls close. Voters can turn their absentee ballots in as long as the polls are open, he said, so keeping a batch unopened until the end makes all submissions remain confidential.

“I don’t know what else to do, because again, we’ve never had this push,” said Simmons. “To be on the safe side, this is what we’ll do.”

If the recent Lewes election is any indication, the number of people who vote in person the day of the election will be limited in Rehoboth. In Lewes, of the 1,029 people who voted, only 290 voted in person.

Simmons said he doesn’t expect the number of in-person voters to be too high. It will be slow, but they will come in, he said.

The election will take place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., in the Rehoboth Beach Convention Center, 229 Rehoboth Ave. To be eligible to vote, a person must have registered by July 9. For more information regarding the election, call 302-227-6181 Ext. 159 and ask to speak with election officials Donna Moore or Jean Lee.

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