In a move aimed at increasing voter participation, the Delaware Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has recently introduced automatic voter registration for new voters in the state. The initiative, announced by the Delaware Department of Elections (DOE), allows eligible individuals to register to vote seamlessly during their interactions with the DMV.
As of June 21, individuals who apply for a new Delaware driver’s license, learner’s permit, identification card, or request a name or address change through the DMV, and meet the necessary criteria, will be automatically registered to vote. The implementation of this process aligns with Delaware law (15 Del. C. § 2050A) and ensures that those who are of sufficient age, confirmed as citizens by the DMV, and not already registered to vote are included in the voter registration system.
It is important to note that automatic voter registration only applies to new Delaware voters. The integration of Automatic Voter Registration (AVR) between the DMV and DOE facilitates a smooth transfer of registrant data into the state’s voter registration database. DMV customers need only complete their transaction, as their information will be electronically transmitted to the voter registration system. The DOE then carefully reviews each record to confirm the voter’s eligibility, subsequently adding them to Delaware’s list of registered voters.
Jana Simpler, Director of the Delaware Division of Motor Vehicles, emphasized the benefits of AVR, stating, “As a result of the enactment of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, any U.S. citizen residing in the State of Delaware who met the eligibility requirements was afforded the opportunity to register to vote while obtaining or renewing a Delaware driver’s license, learner’s permit, or identification card. AVR will streamline the process for those who qualify.”
Newly registered voters, known as AVR voters, are registered without party affiliation and are officially considered registered voters from the date of their DMV transaction. To ensure transparency and provide additional options, the Department of Elections will mail each automatically-registered voter a “Notice of Automatic Voter Registration” along with a “Response to Automatic Voter Registration” form. This form allows AVR voters to update their registration details, select a party affiliation, or even cancel their voter registration if they choose to do so.
AVR voters who wish to participate in primary elections are advised to choose a political party affiliation by the day of the first primary election following their automatic voter registration at the DMV. Delaware follows a closed primary system, meaning that only voters registered with the Democratic or Republican party are eligible to vote in their respective primary elections.
For further clarification or inquiries regarding the Automatic Voter Registration process, individuals are encouraged to contact the Delaware Department of Elections directly. Detailed information can be found on the department’s official website at elections.delaware.gov, or by calling (302) 739-4277. Additionally, Delaware residents are urged to reach out to their elected officials should they have any concerns about the legislation’s implementation and impact.