All registered voters were able to apply for an absentee ballot this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, increasing the numbers of absentee voters over most years and leading to questions about what to expect with the counting process.
According to a bill signed by Gov. Ned Lamont, local election officials were able to open the outer envelope of the ballots starting Friday, Oct. 30 at 5 p.m. to verify their legitimacy. However, the inner envelope, which contains the actual ballot could not be opened until Election Day.
In order to count, absentee ballots must be received by the town by 8 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 3. It is not enough for ballots to simply be postmarked by Election Day in Connecticut. If they have not been received by the town or dropped in a town drop box by 8 p.m. on Election Day, they will not count.
As of Monday, Stamford had the most absentee ballots returned (23,212) followed by West Hartford (17,918) and Norwalk (16,103).
In Hartford, several dozen people were at tables inside the city council chambers going through the absentee ballots before they got tabulated. The city's Republican registrar said they have gotten through a significant chunk of them as of Tuesday afternoon.
"Hopefully we will be able to get our numbers in way before 12 midnight," said registrar Sheila Hall.
As of 3 p.m., Hartford had received roughly 6,000 absentee ballots and the election workers had tabulated two-thirds of them, Hall said.
Absentee ballots being dropped off on Election Day cannot be counted until after the polls close at 8 p.m.
In South Windsor, the registrar had poll workers divvied up into eight teams of two with a Republican and a Democrat on each team to go through verifying and tabulating absentee ballots.
South Windsor had received 6,200 absentee ballots before Election Day.