Although often barbecued for its absentee ballot gymnastics via the Democratic political organization, maybe Bridgeport’s ahead of the curve in this early voting stuff.
“For the first time in Connecticut history, due to the COVID-19 crisis, every Connecticut voter was allowed to vote by absentee ballot if they chose to, and the response was overwhelming,” Connecticut Secretary of the State Denise Merrill said in a news release. “Connecticut voters clearly want options to make casting their ballots and making their voices heard more convenient.”
The state’s chief elections official promotes the following: 35% of ballots cast in the Nov. 3 election were by absentee and that of those 665,597 ballots, fewer than 1% were rejected, the lowest percentage in recent history.
Connecticut is among a handful of states that requires excuse-only early voting, one of six reasons to vote by absentee.
Early voting evens the playing field against those so-called diabolical political forces manufacturing an early vote, especially among senior citizens who want to participate but don’t want to turn out to polls on one specific date.
The reality is the party apparatus is most effective at churning out absentee voters during low turnouts. When it hits a higher threshold voters unrestrained by political contacts are choosy. Case in point: City Councilman Marcus Brown ran a competitive August primary against State Senator Marilyn Moore, the beneficiary of ballot placement next to Joe Biden who had nearly no Democratic primary competition from candidates who had disbanded campaigning.
Brown performed solidly with the walk-in vote in Bridgeport, Trumbull and Monroe. The wide expectation had Brown running up large numbers of absentee voters because of the presumed organizational advantage. Not so in Bridgeport when the absentee numbers were counted in the wee hours. Moore won the absentee count comfortably. The party organization that backed Brown only holds sway with a certain amount of voters. The larger recognition and campaign work of the incumbent prevailed.
In the end every registered voter in the state received an absentee ballot application due to the health emergency, the same for the general election. It became easier to cast a ballot
Why should it take a health emergency?
Some states allow all-mail voting.
The land of steady habits is stuck on this excuse-only early voting. It would take a vote of the people by a state constitutional question to change it.
Many years ago the question was defeated by voters because the state did a poor job explaining what it meant.
As Merrill notes many voters want more options to cast a ballot. She’s trying to bring back the constitutional question before voters, a process that requires legislative approval.