2021 is an election cycle for City Council and Board of Education. If passed into law, as it was in 2020, this measure allows all electors the option to vote by absentee ballot in lieu of walk-in polling places, citing public health issues.
In the news release below State Senator Marilyn Moore signals her support for early voting in Connecticut and expanded use of absentee ballots.
Despite unanimous Republican opposition, Connecticut Senate Democrats today approved a bill that will extend the option to vote by absentee ballot to all Connecticut voters through November 3, thereby allowing residents to participate in local budget or referendum votes, mayoral and town council elections, school board elections and other electoral processes without the fear of any potential public health concerns.
Senate Democrats approved an amended version of Senate Bill 901 today on a 24-12 vote; the bill now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration. The bill received zero Republican votes when it was passed out of the Government Administration and Elections Committee on March 5, and received zero Republican votes when it was approved by the Appropriations Committee on Monday.
“The right to vote is one of the most fundamental rights in our country,” said Sen. Moore. “Absentee ballots proved to be an alternative solution during the 2020 election that allowed everyone to use their right to vote while remaining safe during a pandemic. This is the future of voting by expanding access to voting.”
S.B. 901 extends through November 3 certain temporary changes that were made to state law for the 2020 elections due to the deadly COVID-19 viral pandemic. Among other provisions, the bill:
— Expands the reasons people can vote by absentee ballot to include the COVID-19 sickness
— Authorizes town clerks to mail absentee voting sets using a third-party vendor that the secretary of the state approves and selec
— Requires town clerks to designate secure drop boxes and allows voters to deposit absentee ballots in them
— Authorizes municipalities to conduct certain absentee ballot pre-counting procedures
Despite today’s action, public voting rights in Connecticut remain severely outdated and restrictive. For instance, Connecticut remains one of just 16 states in America that does not offer “no-excuses” absentee voting, and is one of just six states in America that doesn’t offer early voting, joining Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire and South Carolina in restricting the rights of its citizens.
Today’s successful vote by Senate Democrats comes amid a national debate about expanding democracy to more Americans in the face of fierce and determined Republican legislative efforts to disenfranchise voters at the state level.
For example, the chief executives of Michigan’s 30 largest corporations–including Ford, General Motors and Quicken Loans–publicly came out in opposition to proposed changes by Michigan Republicans to make voting more difficult in that state. Nevada Republicans have censured their own secretary of state for refusing to investigate bogus Republican claims of supposed election fraud there. Arizona and Texas Republicans are pushing new state laws to limit mail-in voting and instituting other anti-democracy restrictions, and Major League Baseball pulled the planned 2021 All-Star Game of Atlanta, Georgia in protest of Republican efforts there to institute more restrictive voting regulations.