Lawsuit challenges vote-by-mail statute

Latest legal action joins others targeting new laws
August 2, 2022

Attorney Julianne E. Murray filed suit in the Court of Chancery July 22 on behalf of three Delaware citizens seeking to invalidate the new vote-by-mail statute. 

Murray of law firm Murray, Phillips & Gay is asking for a permanent injunction and declaratory judgment that the statute in Senate Bill 320 is unconstitutional under the Delaware Constitution. The suit seeks expedited processing.

SB 320 creates permanent, no-excuse vote by mail. The Delaware Constitution provides for a very limited list of excuses for not voting in person in a general election. The lawsuit argues the Delaware Constitution must be amended if the General Assembly wants to expand the list of excuses and that such a change cannot be done by statute.

“We have been waiting since June 30 for the governor to sign this bill so that we could file suit,” said Murray in a press release. “During the floor debates in both houses, members of the General Assembly said that, despite testimony that the statute is unconstitutional, they were going to pass the law and let it be sorted out in the courts. So be it. We filed within approximately two hours of the governor’s signature – we want to get before the court as quickly as possible.”

The plaintiffs are all registered voters in Delaware: a Republican, a Democrat and an unaffiliated. In addition, one is from New Castle County, one from Kent County and one from Sussex County.

“This is significant because the suit is being filed for all Delawareans and is not intended to be one political party against the other political party,” Murray said. “At the end of the day, this affects everyone in Delaware regardless of their political persuasion. It is important to defend the Delaware Constitution.”

“This lawsuit is not an attack on vote by mail. If the General Assembly wants permanent, no-excuse vote by mail, they should amend the constitution,” said Nick Miles, one of the plaintiffs. “People are going to try to make this a partisan issue, and it is really nonpartisan. This is not about the virtues or flaws of vote by mail. This is about following the proper procedure. The General Assembly didn’t have the votes to amend the constitution properly, so they are attempting to work around that process by passing this statute. The work-around is the issue and is what we should be talking about.”

Murray is a Republican candidate for state attorney general. 

This is the latest lawsuit targeting recently passed voter laws. On the same day as Murray, Delaware GOP Chair Jane Brady filed a lawsuit in Court of Chancery challenging the constitutionality of vote by mail and same-day registration. Brady filed the lawsuit on behalf of Michael Higgin and Michael Mennella. 

SB 320, sponsored by Sen. Kyle Evans Gay, D-Heatherbrooke, allows voting by mail under the state’s methods and instruments of voting. The bill passed the Senate 13-8 and the House with 25 yes votes.

The same-day voter registration bill, House Bill 25, sponsored by Rep. Sherry Dorsey Walker, D-Wilmington, allows a person to register to vote the day of an election provided they submit an application with at least a current government document displaying their name and address.

In January, Brady filed another lawsuit on behalf of Mennella, an election inspector. The lawsuit states that Delaware’s early voting laws, set to take effect in 2022, conflict with and violate the Delaware Constitution because those laws expand the administration of the general election beyond its constitutionally designated day. 


Subscribe to the Daily Newsletter