The House has passed a bill to move forward a constitutional amendment to allow for no-excuse absentee voting in the future.
Nearly 650,000 voters took advantage of no-excuse absentee voting in 2020, but Connecticut would need to change the state constitution to make that an option in the future.
“ I think Connecticut voters just want options like every other state,” House Speaker Matt Ritter said.
Ritter says he thinks voters want the option to vote by absentee ballot in future elections.
“I don’t think you’ll see A.B. voting as high as you saw this time because we won’t be in a pandemic, but I still think you’ll have thousands among thousands of people who would prefer to mail their ballot in,” Ritter said.
House Minority Leader Vincent Candelora says believes voters are concerned about the integrity of the ballot.
“There’s always evidence of fraud in the absentee ballot world. We’ve seen it. It has not been widespread, but if you don’t have the proper safeguards it’s going to invite fraud and that’s our concern,” Candelora said.
Ritter says absentee ballot fraud is rare and he doesn’t support signature verification.
“There’s just not widespread voter fraud from absentee ballots and it’s sort of parroting remarks from a discredited former president of the United States who was the source of a lot of that friction and commentary,” Ritter says.
As for signature verification, “I just think it’s a problem that doesn’t exist and we’re looking for -- It’s just going to cause more issues and if we have to wait until 2024 to make sure we do it right, I’d rather do that than make a bargain we’re going to regret to do it in 2022,” Ritter said.
Candelora says he doesn’t believe there was enough fraud to overturn the results of Connecticut's election.
“There’s always been fraud in Connecticut, I don’t think it’s affected the outcome of an election per se,” Candelora said.
Despite the bill passing the House, the bill did not receive the required 3/4 needed to make it on the ballot. Lawmakers will need to come back in two years and pass it again to get it on the ballot for voters.
Secretary of the State Denise Merrill released a statement on the vote:
“This is an important first step to bringing Connecticut in line with rest of the country by making voting more convenient through universal access to absentee ballots. This is a common-sense, voter-centric reform that the overwhelming majority of voters, Democrats, Republicans, and unaffiliated, are in favor of, and it is disappointing that there wasn’t more Republican support to let the voters decide this issue next year. I look forward to this amendment being swiftly taken up and passed by the Senate.
"Make no mistake, this will be decided by the voters at the ballot box in 2024 – it is a shame that most Republicans have chosen to delay the voters’ ability to make their voices heard by two years.”