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A scandal-worthy dereliction of duty by Delaware’s Election Commissioner

By Ben duPont, Guest Contributor

Like all office holders in our state, Election Commissioner Anthony Albence took an oath to serve Delaware faithfully in accordance with the state and federal constitutions. Unfortunately, he has decided to break that oath by putting his own party’s political interests over the rights of Delaware voters.

Mr. Albence is attempting to block our group, No Labels Delaware, from gaining ballot access in the state. No Labels’ work in Delaware is part of our nationwide effort to secure a ballot line that we could potentially offer to a Unity presidential ticket in 2024, featuring a Republican and Democrat as running mates. We’re undertaking this work on behalf of the majority of Americans and Delawareans who are unsatisfied with their two likely choices for president and are demanding another option.

Unfortunately, many partisans have proven they will stop at nothing to prevent that option from being offered. Mr. Albence is now engaged in a clear and shameful attempt to eliminate competition for President Biden in his home state.

Mr. Albence wants to block No Labels Delaware from the ballot on the pretext of a ridiculously thin accusation, based on a handful of phone calls and an anonymous tip from a reporter, that No Labels Delaware is “tricking” voters during the registration process. Never mind that we utilize best-in-class measures to prevent confusion among all voters we register, such as having our organizers wear t-shirts that say “THIS IS NOT A PETITION” in bold letters and requiring them to complete multiple rounds of training.  We also use only the official form, published by the Commissioner himself, that features “All-in-One Form to Register to Vote” in bold at the top.

These measures are exactly why Mr. Albence can only identify a handful of potential instances of voter confusion out of the 1,316 registrations we have successfully submitted. A 1 to 2 percent misunderstanding rate does not invalidate the other 98% of our registered voters and does not constitute a sufficient basis for disqualification. To assert otherwise is absurd.

Even worse, Mr. Albence is attempting to change the rules of how to register voters in order to make it impossible for No Labels Delaware to succeed. State law mandates that we register party members to secure ballot access, but he claims we cannot proactively approach or ask voters to register with us, and that the voters must approach us instead. This is an outrageous violation of our most basic First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and association. It also poses a clear catch-22 by making No Labels unable to qualify for the ballot and yet unable to do anything that would allow us to qualify. And that, of course, is exactly how Mr. Albence wants it.

His actions make a mockery of the democratic process and Americans’ constitutional right to influence the ballot. It is a clear misuse of government power to shut down electoral competition and secure advantages for his own party, and a terrible look for the president’s home state. I believe President Biden has an ethical obligation to intervene and stand up for the rights of Delaware voters. If he chooses to stand idly by while his party rigs ballots in his favor, he’ll lose any credibility in his constant moralizing about defending democracy.

The real victim of this isn’t No Labels, it’s the people of Delaware. This is a shameful affront to their right to have a say over their electoral choices, and it comes from the very person tasked with defending that right. It’s a reminder of exactly why so many people despise our two-party political system: it is more focused on self-preservation and power than actually serving voters. No wonder so many Delawareans have been eager to register with our party and support a fresh choice in 2024. I can assure them that we will not rest until our party status and ballot access have been restored.

Ben serves as a director of UrbanBound, GigSky, Ecrio, Vorbeck, Longwood Gardens, Zip Code Wilmington, and the Tower Hill School. Previously, he served as Co-Chair of A Better Delaware.