Senate Bill 180
152nd General Assembly (Present)
Out of Committee 6/21/23
Reported from Committee; to list ready for consideration (Ready List)
AN ACT PROPOSING AN AMENDMENT TO ARTICLE V OF THE DELAWARE CONSTITUTION RELATING TO VOTING.
This Act is the first leg of an amendment to the Delaware Constitution that does all of the following: (1) Under Section 1 of this Act, limits the disenfranchisement of an individual who is convicted of a felony to the period during which the individual is imprisoned due to the felony, or until the individual is pardoned, whichever comes first. (2) Brings Section 1 of this Act into conformity with the United States Constitution and federal law. Section 1 of this Act specifically does all of the following: (1) Removes the ability of the General Assembly to impose the forfeiture of the right of suffrage as a punishment for a crime. (2) Removes the list of felonies resulting in permanent disenfranchisement. (3) Prohibits making the re-enfranchisement of an individual who is convicted of a felony contingent on the payment of a monetary payment of any kind. (4) Makes a conforming change based on proposed changes in Section 2 of this Act. (5) Updates the age at which a resident of this State is granted a right to vote to be 18 years or older, to conform the Delaware Constitution to the 26th Amendment to the United States Constitution. (6) Removes the durational residency requirements necessary to qualify to vote in this State. Durational residency requirements have been found unconstitutional because these requirements infringe on both the constitutional right to vote and the constitutional right to travel. See Dunn v. Blumstein, 92 S. Ct. 995 (1972) (finding 1-year residency requirement in a state and 3-month residency requirement in a county unconstitutional) and Marston v. Lewis, 93 S. Ct. 1211 (1973). A voter will still be required to be a resident at the time the voter registers. (7) Removes the literacy test requirement to qualify to vote in this State. Literacy tests have been used to disqualify Blacks and individuals who are immigrants or poor. Because of the discriminatory use of, and often subjective nature of, literacy tests, literacy tests are prohibited under federal law, see 52 U.S.C. § 10501, and likely unconstitutional under the 14th or 15th Amendment to the United States Constitution, see Oregon v. Mitchell, 91 S. Ct. 260 (1970). (8) Makes a technical correction to remove an unnecessary comma. Section 2 of this Act removes disenfranchisement as a punishment for violation of certain election offenses. Amending the Delaware Constitution requires not only the passing of the changes in this Act, but also passage of the same changes after the next general election by the next General Assembly. This Act requires a greater than majority vote for passage because § 1 of Article XVI of the Delaware Constitution requires the affirmative vote of two-thirds of the members elected to each house of the General Assembly to amend the Delaware Constitution.
A First Leg amendment must be approved by the next General Assembly to become part of the Constitution. A Second Leg amendment becomes part of the Constitution upon passage of both Chambers of the subsequent General Assembly.