Connecticut Election Proposals Currently Under Consideration

Most of us agree that voting must be accessible, simple and secure for all citizens eligible to vote.

With those thoughts in mind, here are three election proposals being considered by the legislature’s Government Administration and Elections Committee that merit your time to understand. 

House Bill 5701  Ranked Choice Voting in Municipal, State and Federal Elections

Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) is an alternative voting system where voters rank their candidates in order of preference – a sequence of first, second, third, etc on their respective ballots.

RCV has been adopted in local elections in twenty US cities including Cambridge, Maryland, San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland and San Leandro California and Tacoma Park, Maryland. Alaska and Maine have adopted RCV for statewide and federal elections.  

Advocates claim ranked choice could improve America’s low level of voter participation, giving voters a chance to make their voices heard and that it encourages more positive campaigning since candidates aim for wider appeal. Statistics prove that RCV does not increase voting over our current plurality process as its overly complicated and confusing. It is worth studying this concept to learn when it might make sense to use RCV.

Notably, Secretary of the State Stephanie Thomas does not support RCV at this time. Our state’s current tabulators / software don’t have the capability to tabulate the votes in a RCV Election.

HB 5704 Mandatory Voting 

The purpose of this legislation is to institute mandatory voting to purportedly incentivize civic engagement. This would require that each qualified voter cast a ballot in all elections or provide a valid reason for not casting a ballot. Election officials would be responsible for contacting a qualified voter who did not cast a ballot at an election, inquiring why the voter did not cast a ballot. The elector must respond with a valid reason why or be fined for not responding. 

In the last decade, Connecticut has introduced Election Day registration, as well as automatic registration at Connecticut’s Department of Motor Vehicles, unless you opt out. These were all efforts to increase voter participation. These have not statistically increased voter turnout. At the same time they have proven challenging to our town clerks and town registrars to manage all the rapidly moving pieces. 

It’s illogical to assume that both RCV and mandatory voting will increase turnout. There are a multitude of reasons why voters don’t vote. Assuming why, without foundational knowledge is not a basis to form good policy. Thinking the next shiny object is the key to turnout is misguided.

HB 5702  Incarcerated Prisoners and Voting

It’s basic. There are laws / rules to which we must abide. We are a country founded on the Rule of Law. If you don’t, certain rights and privileges are suspended or revoked. This is true throughout one’s life. Understanding consequences is part of life. There are laws on the books to return voting privileges to those who’ve broken the law. 

All of these proposals have had public hearings. You may click on the links and read through the submitted testimonies and more detail on the proposed legislation. The Government Elections and Administration Committee (GAE) will vote (or not) by the committee deadline on March 30th.

Please let me know your thoughts and ideas. I always appreciate thoughtful dialogue on key issues. Even more, please let your representative / senator know your sentiments regarding these proposals.

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