Thursday, May 7, 2020

Delaware Presidential Primary Pushed Back Another Five Weeks

Delaware Governor John Carney (D) on Thursday, May 7, signed yet another amendment to his state of emergency declaration in response to the coronavirus pandemic. This one, like the change in late March, shifts the presidential primary in the First state back by another five weeks to July 7.

Delaware now joins neighboring New Jersey on a date just after the Fourth of July holiday weekend. Typically, those types of summer primaries come with their own issues. Voters may find conflicts with schedule while they are on vacation, for example. But part of Carney's order addresses that issue. Not only does the presidential primary in Delaware move back another 35 days, but that buys state elections officials some additional time to send out absentee ballot applications to all eligible Delaware voters. Again, that is applications and not ballots. The additional time will also give elections officials time to process those requests and mail out ballots to those voters who are approved.

While this order opens the door to another wider form of participation in the primary, it importantly does not eliminate in-person voting. At least six sites in each county across Delaware will continue to offer in-person voting for those who prefer that option. Under the order municipalities are also given the latitude to extend the hours in which polling stations are open on primary day.

No, Delaware is not a large state and there are only 21 pledged delegates at stake in the Democratic primary, but the date change is yet another statement about the broader impact of the coronavirus pandemic on elections in 2020. This primary move is a second change for Delaware, but also one beyond the June 9 deadline by which states must have conducted their primaries or caucuses under Democratic National Committee rules. The state joins Connecticut, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey and New York in that distinction.

The change in Delaware has been added to the 2020 FHQ presidential primary calendar.

Governor Carney's emergency declaration will be archived here.

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