Statement of Secretary of the State Denise Merrill on her Official Interpretation of Connecticut's Existing Absentee Ballot Statute
HARTFORD– The official interpretation of Connecticut General Statutes 9-135, Connecticut's absentee ballot statute, that was today sent to local election officials from the Office of the Secretary of the State is linked here.
"No Connecticut voter should be forced to choose between their health and their right to vote," said Secretary Merrill. "The coronavirus pandemic has created unique challenges for election administration, and this interpretation of the law will allow the maximum number of Connecticut voters to use their illness as an excuse under the existing statute because of the specific nature of the coronavirus."
The official interpretation of the statute, made with review of guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control, issued under the Secretary of the State's authority in CGS 9-3 to interpret Title 9, allows voters with underlying risk factors relevant to COVID-19 to request and receive an absentee ballot using the "his or her illness" reason found in 9-135. Secretary Merrill previously announced that all voters will be receiving applications for absentee ballots; those applications will explain the law in light of this interpretation of 9-135. As previously announced, the Office of the Secretary will pay for the postage for the applications, their return, the ballots, and the ballots' return, so that absentee ballots can be used without cost to the voters or the towns.
"Connecticut has the most restrictive absentee ballot laws in the country, and the coronavirus has exposed how that restrictiveness can threaten our democracy," said Secretary Merrill. "The legislature can and should fix this permanently when they come into session in the summer by removing the most restrictive language from the statute."
Secretary Merrill previously published an op-ed calling for the legislature to act that can be found here: https://www.ctpost.com/opinion/article/Opinion-Legislature-must-act-to-allow-15235235.php