Understanding Early Voting in Connecticut

During this legislative session, I am honored to be reporting on Election Law and Voting proposals as a Yankee Fellow for the Yankee Institute. I’ve long been an admirer of the Yankee Institute and their support for a bottom up government; a government that governs best is one that listens, is transparent and accountable to the people – – always For the People, By the People.

With my fourteen years of legislative leadership + experience coupled with my candidacy last year running for Secretary of the State, I’m enthused to continue to educate and inspire engagement in our political  process.

The 2023 Legislative Session opened January 4th and ends on June 7th. Here are some of the key Election proposals that have been made public so far. More details to come on the bottom three.

  • Early Voting (EV) 
  • Ranked Choice Voting (RCV)
  • Voting privileges for Undocumented HJR 13
  • Mandatory Voting 

The most important work this year will be putting statutory language on Early Voting. 

In November, voters approved – – through a ballot initiative – – the concept of Early Voting. Connecticut is unusual, that our basic voting rights are embedded in our state Constitution rather than state statute. Meaning any changes must be approved by the voters in the state instead of lawmakers.

Many confuse Early Voting and Absentee Voting. Early Voting is done in the same process as in-person voting on Election Day. The voter goes to a specified location in their town and votes by showing an ID, receives a paper ballot, marks the ballot in private and feeds the ballot into a tabulator. The ballot cast remains secure in the tabulator until the ballots are counted at the close of Election Day. Absentee voting is done by a two step process, starting with filling out an Absentee Ballot application, followed by receiving the ballot, filling ballot out and mailing one’s ballot in or dropping it in a dropbox outside one’s local town hall.

The majority of  states allow Early Voting and ranging from three days ahead of Election Day to twenty-eight days ahead of Election Day. It is an unfunded mandate on municipalities as polling place staff must be in place to maintain safe and secure election processes. There are many more questions to ask and understand before formalizing this process in statute. Details matter.

In dozens of conversations I had with Town Clerks and Town Registrars the last year, a large majority of them, favored five days of EV with two days break in between EV and Election Day to update voter lists.

The three bills related to Early Voting are:

HB 1057 proposes 10 days of Early Voting: https://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/cgabillstatus/cgabillstatus.asp?selBillType=Bill&which_year=2023&bill_num=1057

HB 5004 and HB 1604 contain the same proposals; the difference being the number of days of Early Voting proposed, HB 5004 proposes 14 days and HB 1604, 19 days of EV. 

You may sign up to testify at the Public Hearing for these bills which will be held tomorrow February 22nd at 10am, along with others on the agenda. Testimonies may be given in person in the Legislative Office Building and also via zoom. Here is the ink to the full Government Administration and Elections Public Hearing agenda, which also includes proposals for no-excuse absentee voting by amending our state constitution: https://www.cga.ct.gov/2023/GAEdata/pha/pdf/2023pha00222-R001000GAE-pha.pdf

To testify, please register using this link if giving testimony in person or by Zoomhttps://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_c3DnsMLiSTCJS0N45jgEag
A unique email address must be provided for each person registered to speak. 

To submit a written testimony please use this linkhttps://www.cga.ct.gov/aspx/CGATestimonySub/CGAtestimonysubmission.aspx?comm_code=GAE

Registration will close TODAY Tuesday, February 21, 2023 at 3:00 P.M.  Speaker order of approved registrants will be listed in a randomized order and posted on the Government Administration and Elections Committee website on Tuesday, February 21, 2023 at 6:00 P.M. under Public Hearing Testimony.

Voting is a right of all citizens and in many ways, there is no greater power each individual has in our country. Passion for our Democratic process must involve an educated electorate understanding our right to access to voting. Voting is essential to protect our Democracy. It is a foundational hallmark of our county. Following the legislative process on election proposals and submitting testimony is one way to have your voice heard.

Please let me know any questions you may have. My email is terrie@terriewood.com. I’ll be providing updates to the public hearings for these initiatives and others over the next several months.

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