Secretary Merrill to Propose Constitutional Amendment to Allow Voters to Vote by Absentee Ballot Without an Excuse
Calls on the General Assembly to pass the amendment with a supermajority so voters can decide in the next election
HARTFORD – Connecticut Secretary of the Denise Merrill today announced that she will again be proposing an amendment to the Connecticut Constitution that allows Connecticut voters to choose to vote by absentee ballot without an excuse. 44 states currently allow their voters to conveniently vote prior to election day either through in-person Early Voting or No-Excuse Absentee Balloting or both. Only Connecticut, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Mississippi, Kentucky, and Missouri require their voters to vote in-person on Election Day unless they have a statutorily defined excuse.
“As our local election officials are working hard to complete the counting of an historic number of absentee ballots, one result is absolutely clear – the voters of Connecticut want to be able to vote conveniently by absentee ballot without an excuse,” said Secretary Merrill. “Connecticut voters have spoken and they want options that make voting more convenient for them, just like voters across the country have. The availability of absentee ballots allowed more than 650,000 people to safely and conveniently cast their ballots, and helped to drive what will ultimately be among the highest turnout elections in Connecticut history. This election proved that, even under the most difficult circumstances imaginable, allowing Connecticut voters to choose to vote by absentee ballot can be a success, and voters are telling us that they want that option. I will be fighting to ensure that they have it.”
There is a Constitutional Amendment to allow Early Voting that passed the legislature in 2019 but, as it did not pass with a three-quarters majority in each chamber, it must come back to the legislature after the next legislature is seated. If it passes again, it would be on the ballot for voters to decide in 2022.
A Constitutional Amendment to allow No-Excuse Absentee Balloting would be starting from the beginning: if it passed each chamber of the General Assembly with a three-quarters majority it would go to the voters in 2022; if it passed each chamber with a simple majority it would come back to the legislature seated in 2023 and if it passed each chamber again the voters could decide in a referendum on the 2024 ballot.
“More than 650,000 voters cast an absentee ballot in 2020 – the people have spoken. Now that voters have been able to vote by absentee ballot if they choose, it is manifestly unfair to tell them they cannot vote the way they wish in the future,” said Secretary Merrill. “The legislature should pass this Constitutional Amendment this year, and with a 75% supermajority so voters can have their say in the next election. Voters should be allowed to decide for themselves if they would like more options to vote, as voters have in the vast majority of other states. Connecticut voters should not have to wait years to make it easier for them to cast their votes and make their voices heard.”