States have seen increases in voter participation after enacting early voting. (Lisa F. Young/Adobe Stock)
May 15, 2019
HARTFORD, Conn. – A resolution to let Connecticut voters weigh in on allowing early voting failed to get enough votes in the Senate to be on next year’s ballot, but it can come back.
Connecticut is one of only 11 states that doesn’t allow early voting. To change that requires amending the state Constitution. The resolution to put the question on the ballot passed in the House by a 5-to-1 margin, but the count in the state Senate was four votes short of the 75% super-majority needed to place it on the ballot next year.
According to David McGuire. executive director of the ACLU of Connecticut, the question can go on the ballot if it passes both houses with a simple majority in two consecutive legislative sessions. The next session begins in 2021, so the earliest it could go on the state ballot would be 2022.
“We’ve heard clearly, both from our members and the general public, that people want the ability to vote early,” McGuire said. “So, I’m confident that we’ll get there. Unfortunately, it’s just going to be a longer path than we had hoped for.”
Once approved by voters, legislation still would need to pass to enact the change, which means early voting wouldn’t be an option until 2024.
Despite gaining majority support in both houses of the General Assembly, some senators voted against the resolution, claiming early voting would lead to voter fraud, a fear McGuire said is unfounded.
“There’s not any studies or information to show that voter fraud is an issue here in Connecticut and that early voting would make this an issue,” he said, “so, really, what it’s come down to is partisan politics.”
McGuire noted that early voting is especially important to voters vulnerable to disenfranchisement because of issues such as physical disabilities, lack of child care or unpredictable work schedules.
Although the measure failed to pass this year, McGuire said the drive to allow early voting in Connecticut isn’t over.
“The biggest thing now is to keep the momentum and for people to continue to let their legislators know that they want early voting,” he said, “so that when they can take it up in 2021 again, it will get through on a simple majority and then move forward onto the ballot.”
The text of the leglslation, House Joint Resolution 161, is online at cga.ct.gov.