Press Releases

01/15/2019

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill Announces Early Voting Constitutional Amendment

The Amendment would allow Connecticut voters to enjoy a minimum of three days of Early Voting 38 states currently provide for some form of Early Voting; Nearly 40 million voters cast ballots prior to Election Day 2018

HARTFORD – Secretary of the State Denise Merrill today announced a Constitutional Amendment to allow Connecticut voters to enjoy a minimum of three days of Early Voting. Currently, voters in 38 states and the District of Columbia are able to use some form of Early Voting to cast their ballots. In 2018, close to 40 million voters voted prior to the election, a record number for a midterm election.

“A record number of Connecticut citizens registered to vote leading up to the 2018 election, and we had record turnout, despite long lines and heavy rains. We should continue to remove barriers to Connecticut voters exercising their most fundamental right to vote by joining the overwhelming majority of states that allow their voters to cast a ballot before Election Day,” said Secretary Merrill. “This popular, common-sense election reform will help ensure that not only can every Connecticut citizen easily register, but that every registered voter can conveniently vote.”

Connecticut is one of only twelve states with no provision for Early Voting, and one of only nine that require voters to provide an excuse in order to vote by absentee ballot without an Early Voting option. Connecticut’s Constitution requires voters to “appear on Election Day” unless they are able to meet one of the requirements in order to vote by absentee ballot. The proposed Constitutional Amendment, attached to this email, would require a minimum of three days of in-person Early Voting, and would remove from the Constitution the restrictions on absentee ballots that are duplicated in statute.

The 2018 Connecticut election, with high-interest translating into voters waiting on long lines in the rain, made clear the need for Early Voting. Early Voting will act as a pressure-relief valve, alleviating long lines at polling places on Election Day. It also gives voters who struggle to make it to the polls on Election Day because of long commutes, the potential for lost wages, age or infirmity, or any other reason, a convenient opportunity to vote in person prior to Election Day.

“Throughout our history access to the ballot box has increased with progressive changes to our laws and Constitution,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney. “Connecticut should take the next step in expanding voter participation and enact early voting as so many other states have done. This expansion of enfranchisement will strengthen our democracy and encourage responsible citizenship.”

“Our nation suffers when parts of our population are prevented or discouraged from exercising their right to vote,” said Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff. “Early voting will increase voter participation and give more people a chance have their voices heard. It is time to take this common sense measure to strengthen Connecticut’s democracy and make voting easier for everyone.”

“One of the best ways to improve public confidence in our democracy is to increase participation,” said Speaker of the House Joe Aresimowicz. “Voting is a foundation of our democracy, and expanding the voting window with an early voting system, as many other states already do, makes a lot of sense.”

“We need to provide voters with options that recognize modern life - balancing work and family - and integrates new voting technologies,” House Majority Leader Matt Ritter said. “Connecticut should join the vast majority of states that allow early voting.”

“Many Americans before us fought for and defended our democracy and our right to vote,” said Senator Mae Flexer. “Yet we have failed to make the way we vote work for the lives we lead today. Too many residents of our state still cannot exercise this sacred right. I hear from college students, seniors, working people, and so many others from my district about how difficult it is to vote. We need to secure reasonable access to voting for all Connecticut residents and make early voting a reality.”

“I believe that in light of today’s increased civic engagement as well as providing our residents options that reflect today's busy, hectic and sometimes unpredictable lifestyles, allowing the residents of the state of Connecticut to have the opportunity to vote early is timely and appropriate,” said Government Administration and Elections Committee Co-Chair Representative Dan Fox.

"I am in full support of measures that increase voter engagement and participation. This initiative allows a minimum of three days of early voting and removes restrictions to obtaining an absentee ballot from the state Constitution," said Representative Livvy Floren.

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