Delaware’s first ‘election protection’ program launches ahead of state’s primary vote

File photo: Voters head to the polls at Claymont Elementary in Claymont, Del., Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Jason Minto)

File photo: Voters head to the polls at Claymont Elementary in Claymont, Del., Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Jason Minto)

Volunteer poll monitors will work outside Delaware’s polls for next week’s primary and the November general election.

The nonpartisan program is part of a national effort led by Common Cause, but this is the first time it will be implemented in Delaware.

Common Cause of Delaware executive director Claire Snyder-Hall says the poll monitors will be in place in Wilmington, Dover, Lewes, and Rehoboth Beach.

“One of the reasons we’re happy to have the election protection field program on the ground this year is because a lot of the voting laws have changed recently,” Snyder-Hall said. Changes include an expansion of early voting, vote by mail, same-day registration, and no registration deadlines.

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“Consequently, we expect that some voters might be confused by all those changes, and we are here to help,” she said, adding that volunteers will be able to ensure everyone can exercise their freedom to vote.

“Several years ago when I voted, it was voting in Rehoboth. I was told that I had to show a driver’s license to vote,” said Synder-Hall. “And that’s actually not Delaware law.”

District lines have changed due to redistricting, meaning some residents may be voting for different representatives or at different polling places than they previously have, which can also be confusing.

With the primary looming Tuesday, Sept. 13, Snyder-Hall said they’re still recruiting volunteers. All volunteers will go through training sessions that teach Delaware election laws. These resources are offered to all communities in addition to volunteers.

“We have some online tools that can help. For example, the ivote.de.gov tool is on the Department of Elections website and people can go there to check their registration, find out their polling location,” she says. “So it’s those kinds of efforts that are not partisan or biased in any way.”

For further assistance, voters in the First State can reach out to the following hotlines for the primary and general elections at:

  • Spanish (888-VE-Y-VOTA/888-839-8682)
  • Arabic (844-YALLA-US/844-925-5287)
  • Asian languages (888-API-VOTE/888-274-8683).
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