Governor Lamont signed an executive order that will allow Connecticut voters the chance to vote by mail for the August primary elections.
The presidential primary was originally scheduled for April 28 but was moved to June 2 and then to August 11 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The executive order permits voting by mail if there is no federally approved and widely available vaccine for COVID-19 prevention.
According to the executive order, "a person shall be permitted to lawfully state he or she is unable to appear at a polling place because of COVID-19 if, at the time he or she applies for or casts an absentee ballot for the August 11, 2020 primary election, there is no federally approved and widely available vaccine for prevention of COVID-19."
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Secretary of the State Denise Merrill said she plans to have her office send every eligible voter an application by mail with a postage paid return envelope to begin the process.
“Nobody should need to make a decision between their health and their right to vote,” Governor Lamont said. “Our state has taken every responsible step to this point to ensure that our residents are safe, and the next step we must take is to mitigate the risk of the spread of COVID-19 when Connecticut residents cast their ballots. We must guarantee access to the ballot, and this is a way to do that during these extraordinary circumstances. I do not take this decision lightly, and it is with the public health and welfare of residents in mind.”
In addition to being able to return the actual ballots by mail, each town will also have a "secure dropbox in a prominent location" where voters can drop off their ballots.
Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano issued a statement raising concerns about the governor's plan.
"I can understand the need for vulnerable populations and those with preexisting conditions to vote by absentee ballot," Fasano said. "However, the process laid out in the Governor's executive order is not simply addressing those vulnerable groups. The proposed process raises significant questions of constitutionality and questions related to the security of unattended drop boxes that would be used to collect ballots."
Editor's Note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the vote by mail option would be available for November's general election. The executive order signed Wednesday only specifies the August primary election.