Ease of Voting: Studies Confirm Connecticut Must Aim Higher
National studies highlight voting obstacles in Nutmeg state
HARTFORD – Recently released studies show Connecticut ranks 30th in the country when it comes to the ease of voting and is solidifying itself as one of the “Most Restrictive States” in the nation.
The Cost of Voting in the American States: 2022 study released earlier this month highlighted Connecticut for obstacles that are bad policies for voters and ranked the state 30th in the nation when it comes to ease of voting. A State Scorecard study, conducted by the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center, gave Connecticut a score of six out of 10, noting “Connecticut made no meaningful changes to its early voting and vote by mail system during the 2022 legislative session.” The most restrictive states received a score of 0-5.
“Sadly, these studies represent some hard truths about our state, in that we have some of the most restrictive voting laws in the country - no period of early voting, strict excuses to vote by absentee ballot, and aging election infrastructure,” Connecticut Secretary of the State Mark Kohler said. “Over and over, it has been made clear, these policies are bad policies for voters.
The good thing is, we can do something about it in less than six weeks. Voters will have an opportunity to voice their opinion on the whether the state should allow for early voting. In 2024, voters will have an opportunity to vote on universal, no-excuse absentee balloting.
The General Assembly has a role to play in all of this too, and I am encouraging that governing body to do its part in securing additional funding for our towns and cities to run their elections efficiently.
In November, there will be a ballot question which, if passed, would amend the state constitution to allow for early voting. This would allow the legislature to provide for residents to go in-person to cast their ballot for a period prior to Election Day.
Forty-six other states do it. Alabama, New Hampshire, Mississippi, and Connecticut do not.
Make no mistake, there are things we can do without amending our state constitution that will make it easier for voters in Connecticut to cast their ballot, including the expansion of Automatic Voter Registration to more state agencies right now.
Bond funding was approved for AVR in 2021 following its implementation at the Department of Motor Vehicles in 2016. Some 500,000 new voter registrations and 700,000 address changes were made. We know AVR works, so let’s make it available in more places. When more people are registered, more people can vote. It’s the necessary first step to perfecting our democracy.
Lastly, it is imperative that we relieve some of the financial pressure towns face at election time. Our municipalities are tasked with funding a large portion of our elections and it simply is not fair to them.
If we truly value democracy, it’s about time we invest in it. These are some of the ways in which the state can make it easier for its residents to vote, and it is the charge of this office to ensure Connecticut becomes one of the easiest states to vote in – not one of the toughest.”