A Victory for Democracy and free and fair elections!

This statement is attributable to Kathleen MacRae, Executive Director of the ACLU of Delaware

May 24, 2017
Wilmington, Delaware

Today is a victory for democracy and free and fair election in Delaware. The Court of Chancery, in its just released opinion, said that the ACLU of Delaware and lawyers from the law firm Shaw Keller LLP proved at trial that Red Clay Consolidated School District violated the Delaware Constitution’s Election Clause in order to secure a favorable result in the special election it held to raise school taxes in February 2015.

This case has always been about voters’ rights and access to the ballot box. This is a fundamental value of our democracy, which cannot be ignored even for a good cause. Government, including school districts, cannot use their power to rig elections in violation of state law. Today’s opinion fully validates that position.

Even though the Court found that “the pervasiveness of Red Clay’s conduct weighs in favor of invalidating the Special Election,” the Court decided not to do so. ACLU of Delaware understands why the Court ruled that way, even though we argued for another outcome. But ultimately, this lawsuit was never about depriving school districts of the funding they need.

We agree with the Chancery Court that there is “dysfunction in Delaware’s system for funding public schools.” We believe that Delaware’s system of school financing is badly broken. As the Court observed, among other things, property assessments are based upon 1983 property values.

The ACLU of Delaware fully supports adequate and equitable funding for our schools at a level that allows them to meet their constitutional obligations. Our schools should not be forced to choose between holding free and fair elections or facing budget shortfalls that prevent them from fully and efficiently educating our children.

School district and other officials up and down state are now on notice that Red Clay’s conduct crossed the line. The ACLU of Delaware will continue to be vigilant in our efforts to protect voting rights in all elections, no matter our opinion on the outcome of the voting process.

You may read the final opinion here.

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