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Delaware: What You Need to Know to Make Sure Your Vote Counts This November

What you need to know, including key deadlines, registration details, and how to vote by mail.

Grace Han/Thrillist

The 2020 General Election is fast approaching, along with complications caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Thankfully, Delaware makes it a little easier to navigate this storm than some states, offering mail-in options for both registration and voting. 

We've put together a guide to everything you need to know, including the important deadlines and updated CDC recommendations for staying safe if you choose to vote at the polls. As you adhere to these deadlines, especially if you're going the mail-in route, make sure you factor in enough time for everything to be processed. Happy voting!

What’s the deadline to register to vote in Delaware?

The deadline to register online, by mail, or in person is October 10. Make sure you have your envelope postmarked by this deadline at the very latest. Earlier is better, of course.

Not sure if you're already registered? The state makes it easy to check your voter status online.

How to register to vote in Delaware

If you don't want to register in person at your county clerk's office, you have a couple options. You can print and complete a voter registration form and mail it back (this form is good for updating existing information, too). Or you can use the state's online voter registration platform

Can I vote early? When does early voting start in Delaware?

Delaware does not offer an in-person early voting period, but you can request an absentee ballot by mail or by visiting your county election office. Thankfully, everyone is able to vote by mail in the state, thanks to a June bill that authorized no-excuse mail voting for the primary, general, and special election. 

Can I vote by mail?

Yes! As mentioned above, the state allows anyone to vote by mail, as long as the person is registered to vote and fills out an absentee ballot application. In fact, the state is automatically sending an absentee ballot application to all voters. 

How to request an absentee/mail-in ballot in Delaware

The easiest, fastest, and safest way to request an absentee ballot is via the state's online form. You can also download and fill out a printable version of the form and mail it your local county election office

The deadline to request an absentee ballot is October 30, but that's cutting it way too close to the election. Get your application in well before the cutoff date so that there's plenty of time for you to receive your actual ballot in the mail and send it back in time to be counted. The state recommends getting this done as far in advance of the election as possible.

How to vote absentee/by mail in Delaware

Once you get your ballot in the mail, carefully follow the instructions mark the ballot with your choices, and return your completed ballot in the provided envelopes as instructed. Make sure you sign and date your ballot before sending it back. Your ballot must be received by Election Day, November 3, by the time polls close at 8pm, but you should get it back to your county election office way earlier than that. Return it as soon as you possibly can.

Is there a way to track my mail-in ballot? How can I make sure it’s counted?

You can track the status of your ballot online

For additional peace of mind, double check that you signed and dated your ballot before you send it. Also, avoid tearing or otherwise damaging your voter materials -- you don't want you ballot to be thrown out on some sort of technicality.

How can I stay safe while voting in person?

Polls are open for in-person voting from 7am to 8pm on Election Day. You can locate your polling place online.

It's important for you to review COVID-19 safety guidelines and plan your trip to your polling location accordingly. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention has issued several recommendations for how to keep yourself and others safe while voting in person this November.

Here's a rundown of what the CDC recommends, according to its official election guidance page:

  • Wear a mask. 
  • Keep a distance of at least six feet from others at all times.
  • Wash your hands both before and after leaving your polling location.
  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol frequently throughout your time inside the polling place, especially after you touch things like door hands, voting machines, and other surfaces that lots of other people touch.
  • If you cough or sneeze, cover them with a tissue or the inside of your elbow. Dispose of the tissues in a lined garbage can, then use that 60% alcohol hand sanitizer again. 
  • Don't try to disinfect the voting machine or equipment yourself because you may end up damaging them. This is where hand sanitizer comes in handy. Use it after you touch the voting equipment or any other equipment at your precinct. If you use it before you touch the equipment, make sure your hands have dried before casting your ballot or touching any of the equipment present.
  • Try to vote when your polling place isn't at its busiest. This might involve driving by and checking to see how long the line is or making a plan to vote early in the day.
  • Verify that you're registered to vote before you leave home and make sure you bring any documents you'll need to avoid complications that could result in spending more time inside the polling place.
  • Bring your own black ink pen for marking your ballot, or your own stylus (just check with a polling place worker before you use it). 
  • If possible, fill out a sample ballot at home that you can use to speed up casting your ballot at the polling location. Knowing who you plan on voting for in each race will save you time inside the polling station. 

Additional Delaware voting resources

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Ruby Anderson is a News Writer at Thrillist. Send your tips to randerson@thrillist.com.