Delaware judge stays own ruling on mail-in ballots

A Delaware judge made headlines earlier this month after ruling that the state’s no-excuse mail-in ballot law is unconstitutional. However, he announced this week the decision is being put on hold. 

According to Delaware Live, Vice Chancellor Nathan Cook ruled on September 14 that permitting the Department of Elections to accept mail-in ballots would “result in the dilution of constitutional votes with unconstitutional votes.”

Republican officials welcomed initial ruling on mail-in ballots

Cook added that if he “were to not enjoin the Vote-by-Mail Statute, then the courts would be faced with the impossible task of ‘unscrambling the eggs’ of an election undermined by unconstitutional votes.”

“Given these considerations, Plaintiffs will suffer irreparable injury if the Vote-by-Mail Statute is not enjoined and doing so is necessary in the interests of justice,” the judge continued.

“Furthermore, the fact that votes will be cast under this unconstitutional law means that the election will not be conducted in strict accordance with our Constitution,” Cook stressed, adding, “As Plaintiffs note, it would be ‘virtually impossible’ to unwind the election.'”

Delaware Live noted that the plaintiffs’ case was being argued by Delaware Republican Party chairwoman Jane Brady and Republican candidate for attorney general Julianne Murray.

Brady and Murray were operating in their capacity as private attorneys and not on behalf of the GOP and were representing a mix of Republican, Democratic, and unaffiliated voters.

Murray was quoted as saying that she was “delighted with the decision,” noting, “The Vice Chancellor took great care in reviewing Delaware’s history as well as Delaware’s case law in coming to his conclusion.”

“I obviously thought that the statute was unconstitutional but to have the Court agree is very validating,” she continued. “Well it has now been sorted out.”

Judge says stay is needed to prevent a potential “grave injustice”

Yet Delaware Online revealed on Monday that Cook had granted a request by Department of Elections and Election Commissioner Anthony Albence to stay his ruling pending an expedited appeal to the state Supreme Court which is scheduled to be heard on October 5.

Under the terms of his stay order, elections officials can process mail-in voting applications and prepare ballots but are prohibited from sending them out.

The judge reasoned that it would be “a grave injustice” to deny residents the opportunity to vote by mail should the Supreme Court find that the new law is constitutional.