Officials Call On Lawmakers To Change Election Laws

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Connecticut has $8.5 million to update its voting system, but it will be up to lawmakers to improve access to the ballot.

When it comes to voting rights, Connecticut is still one of the most restrictive states in the nation, according to election officials.  

“It’s embarrassing we are so far behind other states,” Secretary of the State Denise Merrill said. 

Election officials say there are 44 states that allow no-excuse absentee ballots or early voting, or both. 

“We are not a state that allows easy access for the voters to vote,” Merrill said. 

Voting in Connecticut is not easy if you can’t get to your polling place between 6 a.m. And 8 p.m. on Election Day. 

“It is very difficult to qualify to get an absentee ballot and that’s what we want changed,” she said. 

Lawmakers are tackling the issue, but they will have to wait until 2022 or 2024 for voters to weigh in. 

“In order to change how we vote by absentee ballot, we have to change the Constitution,” Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz said. 

Changing the state's constitution is a cumbersome process. It requires the legislature to vote twice and then voters have a chance to weigh in at the ballot. 

Republicans don’t want to change the Constitution and are worried about the security of expanding absentee ballots. 

“These restrictions have been in place since the 1818 Constitution. They were originally to allow soldiers who were away at war the ability to vote,” Merrill said. 

Bysiewicz says the pandemic has given them an opportunity to think about expanding absentee ballots and early voting. 

“So it’s time for us to put aside our very restrictive voter access laws and move forward,” Bysiewicz said. 

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