Lamont signs Early Voting law, but is there enough money?

Gov. Ned Lamont ceremonially signed the new law Tuesday afternoon, but cities and towns are concerned about having enough money to pay for it.

John Craven

Jun 13, 2023, 9:00 PM

Updated 343 days ago

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Early Voting is officially coming to Connecticut. Gov. Ned Lamont ceremonially signed the new law Tuesday afternoon, but cities and towns are concerned about having enough money to pay for it.
Lamont officially signed the legislation last Wednesday.
LONG TIME COMING
It took nearly a decade to allow Early Voting, because it required amending the state constitution. Voters approved the change last November. Last month, the General Assembly passed a law outlining how the system will actually work.
At Tuesday’s event, Lamont was surrounded by advocates who spent years lobbying for Early Voting.
“If we can make it just a little bit easier to be able to vote with integrity, it makes a difference,” Lamont said just before signing the law.
Voters rejected a similar constitutional amendment in 2014, but critics said the question was confusing and poorly worded.
HOW IT WORKS
Many voters said they’re eager to vote early.
“Sure, absolutely,” said Michael Stewart, of Norwalk. “It would be fast and easy then.”
But Stewart will have to wait until next year – 2024 – to give election officials time to prepare. State lawmakers recently authorized $25 million in borrowing to purchase new vote tabulators.
Early voting will run 14 days. For 2024, that means Oct. 21 through Nov. 3.
“Since COVID, I avoided going to the polls in person,” said John Koizim, of Norwalk. “And I would continue to go when it's not crowded.”
But hours will be limited -- 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. most days, with two days running 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. Two weekends are also included.
“That's fine,” said Stewart. “I'm retired; I can do that.”
The biggest change is where you'll vote. On Election Day, it's usually at a school or community center. But in most communities, Early Voting will only be at one central location – usually Town Hall.
COST CONCERNS
The new state budget only allocated $3.1 million to implement Early Voting. Norwalk Town Clerk Rick McQuaid is worried that it’s not enough to cover extra ballots, security and poll workers.
“It's tough getting poll workers now. It really is,” he said. “And getting them for that long span – and those long hours.”
Lamont said, if more money is needed, it will come. But he added that cities and towns are getting funding increases this year.
“I will do what it takes to make sure the program gets implemented appropriately,” he said. “We are partners with our municipalities.”
EXPANDED VOTE-BY-MAIL COMING?
If you prefer voting by mail, that could get easier soon too. In November 2024, voters will decide on a separate constitutional amendment to lift all restrictions on absentee ballots.
Some voters think that will only lead to trouble.
“Cheating, probably,” said a Norwalk voter who only identified himself as Jerry. “Some scam; I don't know. You know what we've been through.”


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