[Image courtesy of Destination360]
On Saturday, August 13 the City of Rehoboth Beach, DE – a place that bills itself as “The Nation’s Summer Capital” – will hold a municipal election for Mayor and the City Commission.
With so many out-of-towners in Rehoboth for the summer – the population swells dramatically during the traditional peak season from Memorial Day to Labor Day – Rehoboth has had to decide how to handle a population comprised both of permanent residents and property owners who are often, but not exclusively, in town.
Rehoboth Beach’s solution is reminiscent of historic voting laws – a property-based eligibility requirement that allows out-of-town and even out-of-state voters to cast ballots in City elections – without relinquishing the right to vote in their “home” communities.
This system is by no means a model and wouldn’t necessarily work in every jurisdiction – indeed, property requirements for voting gradually disappeared in most places as “universal suffrage” expanded over time in the United States – but Rehoboth Beach’s experience seems to be that its system allows most voters with roots in the community an opportunity to be heard.
Examples like this are helpful to remember as debates about voter fraud – which often includes allegations of out-of-state voters or dual registrations – proliferate around the country. Elections are, by and large, determined by local rules (subject to constitutional limits) – thus, we should not be surprised when individual communities choose local rules that work for them.