Decision 2020

Voting in Connecticut: What You Can and Can't Do

Connecticut has laws to keep the elections process secure.

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More than 370,000 people in Connecticut have already voted via absentee ballot. But many still plan to show up at the polls on November 3.

When they do, there are rules in place to help them feel safe, secure and free to cast their votes without influence.

The law Connecticut voters are most likely familiar with prohibits campaigning, or electioneering, with 75 feet of the entrance to a polling location.

That includes carrying signs and wearing apparel such as shirts, hats and buttons that endorse a particular candidate or issue. A new consideration for voters this year will be the mask they choose to wear on Election Day, which cannot bear the name or likeness of a candidate, according to the Secretary of the State's office.

"Anybody wearing that inside a polling place obviously would be asked to remove it or be removed," said Secretary of the State Denise Merrill.

State law gives the moderator authority to evict any person "who in any way interferes with the orderly process of voting."

The only people allowed inside a polling place on Election Day are voters, poll workers and unofficial election monitors, who must be approved in advance by the Registrar of Voters.

State law also allows each party to appoint a separate challenger, who also must be approved ahead of time. That person can challenge a voter's eligibility, but only "if the challenger knows, suspects or reasonably believes such a person not to be qualified and entitled to vote," according to the law.

Connecticut Attorney General William Tong said, "You can't just loiter inside of a polling location and just call yourself a challenger without a reason to be there and a reasonable suspicion to lodge that challenge."

Both the challenger and the person being challenged are required to give statements under oath. It's rarely invoked in Connecticut.

Anyone convicted of violating state election laws can face fines and even imprisonment. But Merrill said she has never seen outright acts of voter intimidation during her career in Connecticut. She hopes this year will be no different.

Finally, voters should expect to wait in line on Election Day. Due to COVID restrictions, there will be a limit on how many people can be inside a polling place at one time. Voters will also be required to wear face coverings.

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