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Absentee ballots skyrocket ahead of Delaware presidential primary

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Tuesday’s presidential primary in Delaware will see an unprecedented number of absentee ballots submitted, likely a result of the state of emergency order by Gov. John Carney as new COVID-19 cases continue to rise.

State Election Commissioner Anthony Albence said on Monday the state had received 53,000 absentee ballots, a very high count for a presidential primary election compared to previous years.

“[Absentee ballots returned] are tremendously higher this year than a presidential primary normally is,” Mr. Albence said. “Historically, we would have gotten just a few thousand back. This election has seen a very large increase.

In the 2016 Delaware presidential primary, absentee ballots only counted for 5,046 votes out of the more than 160,000 votes cast, a little over 3%.

Earlier this spring, the Department of Elections sent applications for absentee ballots to every registered Republican and Democrat in the state who had not yet requested one.

Legislation passed by the Delaware General Assembly last week said that in future state primary and general elections, voters have the right to submit a vote by mail, even if they do not have a reason that falls into the requirements for requesting an absentee ballot. State officials predict that in future elections, mail-in ballots could count for up to 50% of total votes cast.

Mr. Albence said voting by mail could continue to see increased popularity given the new legislation and further spread of COVID-19.

“Given the situation and the current concern about coronavirus, I think this certainly seems to be a trend in this election, and perhaps with the new legislation, it could very likely continue in the future. It certainly would not be unexpected to see that,” he said.

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