Secretary Merrill Applauds House Passage of Bill to Expand Voting Rights
Bill lowers the barriers to registering and casting a ballot, expands the franchise to more potential voters, and modernizes our elections
HARTFORD, CT – Connecticut Secretary of the State Denise Merrill applauded the House passage of a comprehensive election reform bill that significantly expands the ability of Connecticut citizens to register and vote. This bill would codify the Automatic Voter Registration program that Secretary Merrill implemented administratively in 2016 and would allow the expansion of the program to other higher education and social service agencies. The bill also incorporates proposals that Secretary Merrill made that would strengthen Connecticut’s Election Day Registration program, allow people on parole to regain their voting rights when they complete their sentence of incarceration, and modernize our elections by allowing electronic signatures.
“Connecticut has a proud tradition of leading the way when it comes to reforming our elections to make them accessible to every eligible voter. This bill falls squarely in that tradition,” said Merrill.
"This bill would lower the barriers to registering and casting a ballot, expand the franchise to more potential voters, and modernize our elections."
"While this bill addresses Election Day Registration, it doesn’t completely eliminate the problems we experienced on Election Day 2018. I will keep fighting to ensure that voters who are in line at 8:00pm at an Election Day Registration polling place are allowed to vote – just like they would be able to at any other polling place."
This bill continues Connecticut’s trend of making it easier for eligible voters to register to vote. The codification of the Automatic Voter Registration program would streamline the process by eliminating redundant questions while complying with the National Voter Registration Act, ensure that only eligible voters can register, and allow eligible registrants to opt-out if they choose not to register. The bill also would allow the other voter registration agencies under the NVRA to use the framework established by the DMV over the past two and a half years to implement their own systems of AVR, and would establish a system for Connecticut’s institutions of higher education to offer their students the opportunity to register to vote electronically.
The bill would strengthen Election Day Registration by requiring towns to submit their EDR staffing plans to the Secretary’s office for approval at least 31 days before Election Day, and allowing towns to open a second EDR polling place if they chose to do so. This bill would ensure that all polling places are properly staffed and able to accommodate any eligible voters who wish to register and vote on Election Day.
This bill would also restore voting rights to people on parole once their sentence of incarceration has ended, as is the case currently with people on probation. This would eliminate the confusion between probation and parole, and would help prevent recidivism by encouraging people to re-enter the civic life of their community when they return home.
Finally, this bill would modernize Connecticut’s elections by allowing electronic signatures to be used under Title 9. This would bring Connecticut’s elections into the 21st century and allow, for example, absentee ballots to be requested online and the online voter registration system to be used by any eligible voter, not just by people who have a Connecticut driver’s license.