With the right to vote comes the responsibility to understand how the latest changes affect you. Arguably, a citizen’s right to vote is among our country’s greatest time proven, time tested treasures. In taking the time to understand the changes we will be up to speed on how to vote, consistently.
In the November 2022 general election, voters approved 60-40% to allow Early Voting, by amending our state Constitution.
Early Voting differs from Absentee Ballot voting as it is the process of voting in person at a designated place in a one step process – – without an excuse – – up to fourteen days ahead of an election.
EV mirrors the Election Day process: The voter shows an ID (or signs an affidavit attesting to his/her identity), swears an oath that he/she has not previously voted in the election. The voter is then given a ballot to fill out with privacy. The ballot is then secured by the voter within an early voting envelope, signed on the back and deposited into a secure EV ballot depository receptacle. Ballots will be securely held by the town clerk, as absentee ballots are, until being counted on Election Day.
Absentee Ballot voting is voting up to thirty-one days ahead of election. This is reserved for those physically unable to vote in person. Voting AB requires a two step process, requesting / filling out an application, then receiving the ballot to fill out and return via US Mail or by dropping in the ballot drop boxes located outside town halls. The voter may also vote AB in person at Town Hall.
What does this mean for you, the voter? A simpler, secure process with less paperwork – – as easy as voting on Election Day itself.
Connecticut’s voting framework is embedded in our state constitution. Now it’s up to the legislature to write and implement the framework and how it will work.
HB (House Bill) 5004 passed the House of Representatives and is on the Senate Calendar for a vote before June 7th. It was hoped that the bill would have allowed for Early Voting to start this November 2023, though the process to implement is complex and will require more time.
The bill requires a fourteen-day early voting period for general elections, a seven-day period for primaries and a four-day early voting for special elections and presidential preference primaries for elections held after January 1, 2024. Importantly, EV must begin fifteen days before a general election and end two days before Election Day. This allows the town clerk and registrars to update the voter list for Election Day with those who’ve voted either via Early Voting or Absentee Voting.
- Each municipality must establish at least one early voting location and define the process to do this.
- Hours of Voting 10 am to 6 pm including weekends; the last Tuesday and Thursday hours of voting must be 8 am to 8 pm.
- Election Day Registration (EDR) becomes Same Day Registration (SDR).
- Ballot Chain of Custody has revised and clear procedures.
Here’s the link to the Summary of HB 5004 from the Office of Legislative Research: The bill – https://www.cga.ct.gov/2023/BA/PDF/2023HB-05004-R010756-BA.PDF
Cost Associated with Implementing Early Voting
With this opportunity comes new expenses. The bill will result in significant ongoing labor costs, both locally and at the state level. The projected cost over the next three fiscal years – – ‘24-‘26 is $2.7M at the state level and $4M at the municipal level. The major drivers of these costs are the labor cost of paying poll workers for the fourteen days of work, updating the Connecticut Voter Registration System (CVRS), creating a registrars training manual / materials and a public information campaign. These are surmountable challenges.
Link to the Summary of fiscal impact of HB 5004 from the Office of Fiscal Analysis: Fiscal note – https://www.cga.ct.gov/2023/FN/PDF/2023HB-05004-R010756-FN.PDF
Legislative initiatives on voting often center on encouraging more voter participation. Many believe that EV will reverse the trends of low voter turnout in our state. I certainly hope this helps move the needle and that the process and difference is made clear between Early Voting and Absentee Voting.
Please let me know your thoughts and questions.