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Middletown Transcript
  • Middletown postpones town council election until March 24

  • Middletown voters will have to wait another three weeks before casting their ballots in this year’s town council election, thanks to Monday’s snowstorm.
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  • Middletown voters will have to wait another three weeks before casting their ballots in this year’s town council election, thanks to Monday’s snowstorm.
    The vote to fill three seats on Middletown Town Council was scheduled to take place Monday.
    However, the town’s board of elections announced Sunday that it would be postponing the vote until March 24 – a decision that came just minutes after Gov. Jack Markell issued a state of emergency and Level 1 driving warning across Delaware.
    “We had talked in advance about what we were going to do, so if we did get a snowstorm, we could react quickly and responsibly,” said David Rich, who serves on the town election board with Sonya Comstock and Lorraine Reeves. “With the forecast where it was Sunday night, we felt like postponing the election was the best and safest decision for voters in Middletown.”
    At that time, the National Weather Service was predicting that Middletown could see between 8 and 10 inches of snow on Monday.
    The actual snowfall turned out to be between 2 and 4 inches, and Markell ended up lifting the state of emergency in New Castle County by 2 p.m. – just two hours after the town’s election had been scheduled to start.
    But all four candidates running for town council said this week that they believe the town election board made the right call by postponing the election.
    “Voter turnout would have been terrible on Monday, especially since most of our voters tend to be older folks, who would have had the hardest time getting to the polls in the snow,” Robin Burgess said. “Plus, state offices were closed and they’re the ones who provide us with the voting machines.”
    Rick Catterton, the only non-incumbent seeking office in the election, agreed.
    “There would have been no sense in anyone risking their lives by going out on roads in that weather just to vote,” he said. “I don’t think there will be much impact at all by holding the election on another day.”
    Robert McGhee said it’s possible that fewer voters might show up on March 24, but added that a lower turnout would be worth it if the postponement helped to avoid even a single accident.
    “Anytime you make a decision that could keep someone from getting hurt, it’s a good idea,” he said. “I’ll just keep campaigning and try to let people know about the new date.”
    Jim Reynolds said the later election date could impact a few voters who might now have to cast an absentee ballot instead of a voting in person.
    Page 2 of 2 - “But I think our voters are generally civic-minded people who come out and do their duty every year, regardless of the date,” he said. “By avoiding the snow, I think it gives them even more opportunity to vote.”
    This isn’t the first time Middletown has had to postpone an election due to inclement weather.
    In 2009, heavy snowfall and poor road conditions convinced the board of elections to move the vote from the first Monday in March to the following day.
    Afterward, a town resident filed a complaint with the election board arguing that postponement failed to provide voters with 20-days notice before an election, as required by state law.
    In response, the town nullified the outcome of the first election and held a second vote three weeks later in which the same candidates were elected to office.
    The state department of elections later upheld the outcome of that second election.
    “All the election board members from 2009 are still on the board, so we’ve been through this before,” Rich said. “This time around, we made sure we followed all the protocols and procedures by making sure voters have 20-days notice of the new election date.”

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