absentee ballots

Early Voting, No-Excuse Absentee Ballots Debated

NBC Universal, Inc.

Forty-three states allow voters to cast their ballots before Election Day and Secretary of the State Denise Merrill would like to see Connecticut added to that list.

“Red states, purple states, and blue states almost all allow their voters to conveniently vote prior to Election Day,” Merrill said.

Merrill said allowing voters to vote before Election Day or without an excuse by absentee ballot is just common sense.

The General Administration and Elections Committee heard testimony Monday about an early voting proposal and no-excuse absentee ballots.

“There’s so much going on with the pandemic and everything. If you’ve got a voice now is the time to use it,” William Walton said. 

Walton, of New Haven, was one of 650,000 voters who voted by no-excuse absentee ballot last November before Election Day.

“Despite a highly polarized electorate 79% of Connecticut voters support early voting, 73% of Connecticut voters support expanding access to absentee ballots to all voters without requiring an excuse,” Merrill said. 

However, Republican lawmakers on the general administration and elections committee are wary.

“I’m not suggesting our election are fraught with fraud or that anyone’s results were compromised, but we also don’t know what happened with all those mass mailings of absentee ballot applications,” Sen. Rob Sampson said.

Sampson, of Southington, is concerned about the absentee ballot process.

“In-person voting is always going to have a higher degree of accuracy than absentee voting,” he said.

Dominic Rapini of Fight Voter Fraud is skeptical of the voter turnout data.

“Our election systems must be easy to vote, it must be easy to trust, but it also must be hard to cheat,” Rapini said.

More than 1.8 million people – a record number of Connecticut voters – cast ballots last November. Many of the 650,000 who voted by absentee ballot may not be allowed to vote that way in the future if the Constitution isn’t changed. 

“We have not really had any widespread problems with any of this and it’s very unfortunate that people feel there is some sort of problem with the integrity of our elections,” Merrill said.

COVID-19 did change how people look at elections.

“What happened was it exposed the fundamental inflexibility of our election system,” Merrill said.

The committee will vote on whether to forward the resolutions to the full legislature in the next few weeks.

Contact Us