State's elections chief urges lawmakers to make expanded absentee ballots permanent in Connecticut
The state's top election official urged lawmakers to make expanded absentee ballots permanent as over 500,000 people cast their votes by mail in November.
In 2020, a record number of Connecticut voters cast their ballots early. The expansion was only temporary due to COVID-19.
On Tuesday, state's elections chief told lawmakers it's time to make the change permanent.
"Now, Connecticut voters are wondering, we can't we do this every election?" says Secretary of the State Denise Merrill.
One proposal would let anyone cast an absentee ballot. The other would let you vote early, in-person, just like you do on Election Day.
A poll by the nonpartisan group Secure Democracy found 79% of Connecticut voters surveyed want early voting, with 73% supporting expanded absentee ballots.
"Election Day is not some magic day, meaning there are other opportunities for you to show up and vote in person – which is very important to a lot of people," says Westport RTM member Candace Banks.
But Republicans say the plans are too vague about security.
"There are definitely people out there that are concerned about the integrity of our election process, when it comes to making sure that the elections themselves are monitored," says state Sen. Rob Sampson.
Gov. Ned Lamont says the fears are unfounded.
"Let's make it easier for people to vote. We showed you can do it safely, we showed you can do it with integrity. No questions asked about this last round of elections here in Connecticut," says Lamont.
Even if lawmakers sign off, voters would also have to because the state constitution would be have to be amended. The earliest that could happen is November of 2022.
Voters have also previously rejected the idea once before.
"It was widely believed that the question – people didn't understand the question at all," says Merrill.
"I completely disagree. I think people understood exactly what it meant," says Sampson.
Voters may get another crack at deciding on early voting.