Committee Approves Controversial Same-Day Voter Registration

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A key committee voted Wednesday for same-day voter registration – a controversial issue that has prompted sharp debates about potential voter fraud for more than a decade.

The bill passed by 11 to 4 on a largely party-line vote as Republicans charged that registering and then voting soon after provides too many opportunities for last-minute fraud that might not be detected until after the election is over. One Republican joined with 10 Democrats to pass the measure. The measure now goes to the state Senate.

Sen. Gayle Slossberg, the committee co-chairwoman, spoke strongly in favor of the bill, saying it would help increase voter turnout at a time when turnout is low. She said there was no evidence of voter fraud in Connecticut, adding that a statewide voter registration database would prevent voters from casting ballots by driving to two different towns on Election Day.

\”I do think that we take ballot integrity very seriously,\’\’ said Slossberg, a Milford Democrat. \”One of the great tools at our fingertips and at our registrars\’ fingertips is our electronic database.\’\’

Republicans sharply disagreed with Slossberg over fraud and offered amendments to prevent it.

Rep. John Hetherington, a New Canaan Republican, offered an unsuccessful amendment to ensure that proper photo identification is offered at the polling place at a time of rising identity theft. But Democrats countered that many senior citizens and members of minority groups do not have photo identification because they do not have a driver\’s license.

\”We\’re looking for a valid federal government or state identification,\’\’ Hetherington told his colleagues. \”Whenever an invalid vote is cast, it disenfranchises someone who cast a valid vote. If one of us behaves dishonestly, it impacts someone else. … An election goes to the cornerstone of democracy. If we don\’t have honest elections, we cannot boast that we have a legitimate democracy.\’\’

Hetherington\’s amendment failed, 9 to 5, as Republicans supported the measure and Democrats were opposed.

State Rep. David Labriola spoke strongly against the bill, saying that history shows that there has been documented voter fraud in Connecticut.

\”I do think it opens the door to fraud,\’\’ said Labriola, an Oxford Republican. \”I do think there is plenty of evidence of voter fraud. … It would be chaos at the polls, and the local officials would not be able to handle it. … Elections would literally be stolen. … This is a purported solution to an absolutely non-existent issue.\’\’

Some of the biggest fraud came in the 1986 Democratic delegate primary in Waterbury when Gov. William A. O\’Neill was running against fellow Democrat Toby Moffett, said Labriola. In a primary that became marked by one of Connecticut\’s biggest examples of absentee ballot fraud, 10 people were arrested on 94 criminal counts.

The controversial issue has a long history, including a veto in 2003 by then-Gov. John G. Rowland and a federal court ruling in 2005 in Connecticut that rejected same-day registration. In 2009, the state House of Representatives debated for nearly six hours before approving the bill by 81 to 65. Only one House Republican – Rep. Livvy Floren of Greenwich – voted in favor of the bill that year.

Floren has supported the bill since arriving at the legislature in January 2001, and she said Wednesday that she still supports both the Democratic-written bill and the photo identification that was pushed by Hetherington.

Despite various votes through the years by both chambers, the bill has never been signed into law.

Slossberg, a Milford Democrat, clashed sharply with the Republican view about photo identifications.

\”There couldn\’t be a more fundamental split,\’\’ Slossberg said. \”In Connecticut, we do not have any evidence of voter fraud when registering in person. Not one case. … We have many ways that we combat voter fraud in our state. We have a statewide voter registration database. … Absolutely no evidence of voter fraud in this area. But we do know that between 10 and 25 percent of our population does not have a photo ID. More often not, there are certain member of minority classes that do not have photo IDs. … My father was a World War II veteran, but he no longer had a photo ID because he no longer drove. … I strongly oppose this [Republican amendment]. In this day and age, our goal should be getting as many people as we can to vote.\’\’

When Hetherington, a Yale-educated attorney, asked where the 25 percent figure came from, Slossberg said that it came from a national study about photo IDs.

\”Many people don\’t get a driver\’s license because they use public transportation,\’\’ Slossberg said. \”Even if it\’s one person that we\’ve turned away who is supposed to vote\’\’ that is too many.

Hetherington responded, \”The absence of fraud does not make an argument for facilitating fraud.\’\’

The closest gubernatorial race in decades was in 2010 when Democrat Dannel P. Malloy of Stamford defeated Republican Tom Foley of Greenwich by 6,404 votes out of more than 1.1 million cast – a razor-thin margin of about one-half of 1 percent.

At the legislative level, seats have been won or lost by fewer than 10 votes – and recounts are not unusual for races in the state House of Representatives.

The issue being debated Wednesday was House Bill 5024, titled An Act Concerning Voting Rights.

Rep. Tony Hwang, a Fairfield Republican, said, \”To me, EDR is far too quick. … Over 30 states have photo ID. Photo ID is an issue that has much more acceptance. I would ask us to slow down and respect the right and sanctity of the vote.\’\’

But Slossberg noted that she remembered the veto dating all the way back to 2003 and said the issue had been studied enough.

The biggest court ruling in the case in recent years came in 2005 when a Connecticut federal judge rejected arguments by public interest groups who wanted the state to permit citizens to both register and vote on Election Day.

Only the legislature, not the courts, can force such a change in voter registration law, concluded U.S. District Judge Mark R. Kravitz.

In a strongly worded, 60-page ruling, Kravitz wrote that he was guided by several U.S. Supreme Court rulings that were “crystal clear\’\’ regarding same-day registration. He cited one ruling that says that “a person does not have a federal constitutional right to walk up to a voting place on Election Day and demand a ballot.\’\’

Kravitz said that the plaintiffs, being dissatisfied by the work of the state\’s General Assembly, were now turning to “an unelected federal judge to achieve what they have been unable to obtain\’\’ from the legislature.

Adults must register at least seven days before an election, which lawmakers have said is necessary to avoid Election Day confusion and to allow registrars to prepare an official list of eligible voters in all 169 cities and towns.

The federal lawsuit, which was decided in New Haven, was filed by individuals and a coalition of six public-interest groups: the Connecticut Citizen Action Group, Connecticut Common Cause, Connecticut Public Interest Research Group, Connecticut Democracy Works, ACORN and People for the American Way.

Advocates repeatedly have tried to persuade the legislature to change the law, and they nearly succeeded in 2003. But Rowland vetoed that bill, saying that same-day registration would lead to voter fraud by making it easier for a person to vote at the last minute in a town where he or she does not live.

Politicians in cities such as Waterbury and Bridgeport have complained for years about fraud and outdated registration lists that often include people who are dead. Allowing same-day registration and voting would open the door to even more abuse, defenders of the status quo say, and make it harder to detect.

The proponents reject those arguments, saying that the state\’s computerized voter registration database — completed in January 2004 after Rowland\’s veto — could catch a person who tries to vote in two towns under the same name.

In their 35-page lawsuit, the plaintiffs argued that allowing same-day registration would increase voter turnout. The six states that allowed it at the time — Maine, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Idaho and Minnesota — scored about 10 to 12 percentage points higher for voter turnout than the national average.

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29 thoughts on “Committee Approves Controversial Same-Day Voter Registration

  1. Sharpshooter

    The opportunity for voter fraud under this new legislation is far greater than it ever was before. I’ve been a registered voter in Connecticut for the past 42 years and I recently changed party affiliation.I was told it would be 90 days before I could vote in a primary….in light of this new law, I feel that I have been done a disservice by the registrar of voters….

  2. michael Palazzi

    I am oppossed to same day registration. How would a state wide computer voter registation list prevent a person from voting. They would eventually be caught after the election is over. People have ample time between elections to take the (5) minutes to register. Register of voters in all towns are open different hours several times during each year to accommodate people working different shifts. If people will not take the time for this do you really think they will vote?? Photo ID should remain manditory especially with all the illegle in the U.S. People can get state approved documents, but these are likely the same people that do not take the time to register.

  3. Dee

    No driver’s license? Legitimate voters will not have a problem when they obtain a photo ID at an MVD office that can be used for verifying just about anything..i.e. flying(accepted by TSA), credit card verification and VOTING. Applying for and being allowed to vote on the SAME DAY…sounds like a plan drummed up by ACORN and the Dumocrats!

  4. malvi lennon

    The democrats do not care whether you or I agree with same day registration. When this atrocity becomes law, democrats are guaranteed a life long reign.

  5. George

    There is no evidence that low voter turnout is a direct result of the current registration procedures, or that individual residents are disenfranchised by the current procedures and desire a change.

    The hurdle to register to vote is already very low in CT. Yet, hundreds of thousands of residents who are already registered to vote in CT choose not to vote, especially in local and state elections.

    A better question to ask is, “Why don’t registered voters … vote?”

    1. malvi lennon

      Why don’t registered voters vote? Because many feel disenfranchised due to the candidates put forward by both parties. It seems they all say what they believe voters want to hear but once elected they all play along to get along. As a taxpayer, a small business owner, and a candidate for the state senate I know exactly how many of these unengaged voters feel. I chose to run, but trust me it is an uphill battle. Most people choose to shrug their shoulders, sigh, blame the system and stay home on Election Day.

  6. MrLogical

    Same Day Registration is a unabashed ploy by the Democrats to allow illegal aliens and other non-qualified people the ability to vote without challenge and the idea that there will be some sort of post-election verification is simply ludicrous. If anyone believes that, I have a bridge to sell. The argument that many people (they always emphasize minorities – odd, isn’t it?) don’t have drivers license is empty and irresponsible inasmuch as legal citizens are able to obtain photo identifications issued by the state. Ever try to cash a check without a photo ID? Open a bank account? Board a plane? Obtain a passport? Use a credit card for a sale that exceeds a store’s threshold for clearance? C.mon. It’s roughly 8 months until the election. If you’re legal, and you wish to be eligible to vote, get the proper credentials and get registered.

    The fact that Ms. Slossberg would prostitute her integrity on such a proposal is an affront to the intelligence of sentient, law-abiding voters across the state. I actually thought she was smarter and more principled than that. Apparently not.

    1. Dee

      Mz Slossberg is A) an elected official and B) a Dumocrat. Why would anyone give a person with those credentials credit for having any principals, intelligence or intergrity? How much you askin’ for the bridge, in case anyone wants to know?

  7. mikg

    the arttical failed to mention how many times i could register useing ids with differant names

    1. Dee

      You can register/vote as many times as you can get away with…as long as you votin’ for a Dumocrat!

  8. William Jenkins

    Sharpshooter you were not “done a disservice by the Registrar of Voters” when you changed party affiliation. STATE LAW says you have to wait 90 days for your party privileges to attach, the Registrar cannot over rule state law. The state statute is 9-59. You need to read it and understand it before you make false accusations against Registrars. If you don’t like the law then contact your Legislators and ask them to change it. Good luck with that because it won’t happen.

    1. Sharpshooter

      So…as a registered voter I’m expected to change party affiliations prior to 90 days of a primary but now an unregistered voter can register on voting day and has priviledges greater than mine….I know how the law reads and the injustice is within the present law but will not change for those of us who have been registered for years….hopefully of General ASSembly will strike this down.

      1. William Jenkins

        There is no “injustice” in the present law, you were enrolled with one party for “years” and if you want to enroll in another party you have to wait 90 days, what’s your problem with that? The parties have the option to allow unaffiliated voters to participate in their primaries but both major parties in Connecticut have decided that they won’t allow that, that’s the choice of the PARTY by their rules. If you don’t like their rules then too bad, you can make your statement of your perceived “injustice” by not enrolling in their party.

        The General Assembly cannot dictate to parties, major or minor who the parties allow to vote in their primaries. Legislatures in other states have tried this and the courts have overturned these unconstitutional laws so once again, too bad for you.

        Yes, unaffiliated voters and newly registered voters can enroll in any party immediately and that’s completely fair. If you want the option to vote in a party’s primary that tickles your fancy then you have remain unaffiliated, enroll in that party up to a day before and after you vote, switch back to unaffiliated, you’re just going to have to accept that and stop complaining about it. You’re not going to get any sympathy from the parties on that one shapshooter.

      2. William Jenkins

        You obviously do NOT “know how the law reads” because you wrongly claimed you had been “done a disservice by the Registrar of Voters.” You don’t have a “right” to vote in any and all primaries and if you can’t understand that then there’s no reasoning with you.

  9. William Jenkins

    What so many of you fail to realize it that no identification is required to register to vote, you simply fill out a registration card and SIGN IT SWEARING THAT EVERYTHING ON IT IS TRUE and if it’s not, you’re committing a FELONY whether you do it on Election Day or any other day.

    Then you need to go read CGS 9-23r. If you read and are able to comprehend the requirements in that statute, you’ll see there is no way “fraud” can be committed unless of course the elector is committing a FELONY (by lying on his or her voter registration application) which is a very serious issue and a matter for the police and the courts.

    If it’s determined that more people committed felonies than the total plurality of an election, a judge would order a new election and let’s be honest, the chances of it ever coming to this is about as good as a snowball’s chance in, well you know where……

    Now “Voting” is a completely different issue altogether, go look at Chapter 147 of the Connecticut General Statutes, specifically CGS 9-261(a) which reads as follows:

    “Sec. 9-261. Process of voting. (a) In each primary, election or referendum, when an elector has entered the polling place, the elector shall announce the elector’s street address, if any, and the elector’s name to the official checkers in a tone sufficiently loud and clear as to enable all the election officials present to hear the same. Each elector who registered to vote by mail for the first time on or after January 1, 2003, and has a “mark” next to the elector’s name on the official registry list, as required by section 9-23r, shall present to the official checkers, before the elector votes, either a current and valid photo identification that shows the elector’s name and address or a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck or other government document that shows the name and address of the elector. Each other elector shall (1) present to the official checkers the elector’s Social Security card or any other preprinted form of identification which shows the elector’s name and either the elector’s address, signature or photograph, or (2) on a form prescribed by the Secretary of the State, write the elector’s residential address and date of birth, print the elector’s name and sign a statement under penalty of false statement that the elector is the elector whose name appears on the official checklist. Such form shall clearly state the penalty of false statement. A separate such form shall be used for each elector. If the elector presents a preprinted form of identification under subdivision (1) of this subsection, the official checkers shall check the name of such elector on the official checklist. If the elector completes the form under subdivision (2) of this subsection, the registrar of voters or the assistant registrar of voters, as the case may be, shall examine the information on such form and either instruct the official checkers to check the name of such elector on the official checklist or notify the elector that the form is incomplete or inaccurate.”

    The laws that are currently in place are more than adequate to prevent “fraud” and registering on Election Day doesn’t weaken any of this.

    1. Meliney

      So you could register using a vacant building as an address, and since no identification is required, even a fake name, and do this in every town the day of the election and there is no way to verify? No chance for fraud, right?

      1. Dee

        Lottsa fraud last election and voter info showed vacant lot addresses, deceased people who voted, etc. How do you think whats-his-face was elected in 2008? Does the name ACORN ring a bell? Pass this bill and there will be even more fraud and no one will be able to do ONE THING about it if you-know-who is reelected and Holder remains as AG. Not only do the good citizens of CT need to make sure they are registered to vote, they MUST educate others and encourage voters to apply for absentee ballots way ahead of the Nov. election. Of course, it would help if elected officials got bombarded with emails and calls to let them know the public’s opinion. Isn’t it time for the residents so of CT to stand up, be counted and let their voices be heard?

      2. William Jenkins

        You obviously either didn’t read what I wrote earlier or you cannot understand it. You don’t need “identification” to register under present law but you need identification to vote, registering and voting are two completely different processes under two completely different statutes which I cited earlier.

        Under the proposed legislation, if you register in one town on Election Day and vote and try to register in another town on that same day, the State’s on-line voter registration will catch you committing a felony and you’ll be arrested. If this Election Day Registration bill becomes law, just as a test I dare you to try it and see if you can get away with the plan you outlines. I can guarantee you that you won’t but again, you’re more than welcome to take a chance and see how that works out for you.

        1. John R. McCommas

          You really think those idiots at the Secretary of State’s office will care? They can’t even stop dead people from voting.

  10. Palin Smith

    The name, Democratic Party, would more accurately be renamed, Fraud Party, or Job Killer Party, or Sponge Party, or The Asylum!

  11. Happy camper

    Living in CT all my life it saddens me so see what’s happened to this state. Starting with the flight from the cities in the 60′s, we now are looking to legalize pot, water down education,making voting a joke, forcing people to join unions, tax the death out of everyone, food stamps for all, diapers for daycare, sanctuary cities for everyone in the world. How can we be proud of this state anymore. Whatever happended to self reliance.

    1. Palin Smith

      “How can we be proud of this state anymore.”

      The majority of voters find it dandy. They rubber stamp the same names every election. You can’t teach meatheads!

  12. another way to commit fraud

    The Democrats seem determined to find every way possible to get voters to the polls who are not necessarily legitimate.
    This will encourage voter fraud, pure and simple.
    Let’s not require ID’s, let’s let’em register “day of”……how do we verify how many places they are voting that day or if they are even legal voters ?
    C’mon folks….Americans are all entitled to a valid election, not one determined by illegal immigrants and vote manipulators from the left wing.

  13. to Mr. Jenkins

    Well, yup, you can register without a legal ID, but now the Democrats want all those purported elderly/poor/disenfranchised with no ID to be able to VOTE without one, as well.
    Also, the “same day” crew will likely produce some dubious identification.

    I’m wondering how all these “poor” people have managed to get on the Welfare , food stamp, and other entitlement rolls with no valid ID’s.
    How do they cash checks, how do they establish credit, how do they drive, how do they get housing, how do they get medical care ?
    No one who lives legally in America can’t get an ID for free or at a nominal cost.

  14. More democracy, please

    Election Day Registration (EDR) should *not* be controversial or panic-inducing, unless you don’t like democracy. EDR has been adopted in at least 10 other states with great success (NO instances of Fraud -but- a 12% increase in voter turnout!), and it will help expand voter participation and remove barriers to voting in CT. EDR and online registration reforms will modernize the way we vote in Connecticut and help ensure that every qualified voter is able to exercise their fundamental right and responsibility to vote.

    Claims of fraud are just scare-tactics. There is ZERO evidence that EDR leads to fraud in any way.

    The ID issue is important, as well. Some commentators believe a state issued photo ID requirement is a “commonsense” way to prevent fraud without placing undue burden on voters. Neither of these are legitimate or factual. In fact poor people, senior citizens, and minorities DO face undue burden in obtaining state issued photo ideas. Laws being passed across the country requiring voters to show ID are nothing more than right-wing attempts to disenfranchise millions of voters and strip them of their constitutional right to vote. PLEASE get educated on this. It’s nothing to fear. Unless you fear minorities, the poor, and seniors and don’t want them to have a voice. If that’s the case. Just claim your bigotry and don’t pretend this is about protecting democracy and preventing fraud. because it’s really not.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/03/how-voter-id-laws-are-being-used-to-disenfranchise-minorities-and-the-poor/254572/

  15. patrick

    Excluding weekends and holidays, citizens have approximately 250 days to register to vote. Election Day derives its name because it is the day people VOTE. It’s not called Registration Day For Those Who Are Too Lazy To Register Within The Current Laws or Registration Day For Disillusion Politicans Who Think Everyone That They Will Coerce (a word which clashed with freedom) To Go To The Polls On Same-Day Registration Day Will Vote For Them. It’s not only the legislatures in Washington that are broken. This bill like many others in our state is based on the desire of self-preservation of lifetime politicians.

  16. Chris

    Our once-great state continues its slide. Will they call this bill the “Democrat incumbent protection act” perhaps” Or maybe the “ID theft obfuscation act” would be a nice title. Yet another reason to get out of this corrupt state where the votes of private sector workers and taxpayers does not stand a chance of counting. Fed up, and out of money for these clowns to redistribute. Off to New Hampshire I go.

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