Connecticut Senate Gives Final Approval To Constitutional Amendment On Early Voting

by Categorized: Denise Merrill Tagged: , , , Date:

By Daniela Altimari, Hartford Courant

In November of 2014, Connecticut voters will consider amending the state Constitution to eliminate restrictions on early voting and allow greater access to absentee ballots.

The referendum is the result of a joint resolution approved by the state Senate just after 11 p.m. on Wednesday. The 22-14 vote was the last legislative step in the two-year, bicameral process required when the state Constitution is amended.

If voters approve the amendment to the state Constitution, lawmakers would be empowered to craft legislation allowing for the voting changes.

Supporters characterized the measure as a progressive reform that could enhance democracy by opening up the electoral process and modernizing the state\’s voting laws.

\”Our democracy works best when the greatest numbers of citizens are able to participate,” Senate President Pro Tem Donald Williams said after the vote “By removing unnecessary obstacles to voting, we protect peoples’ right to vote and ensure their voices are heard.”

Both Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Secretary of the State Denise Merrill hailed the measure. “Voting is a great responsibility and this amendment assures the voting rights of every Connecticut resident whether or not they can get to the polls on Election Day,” Malloy said in a statement.

“While some states are working to suppress voter turnout, we are working to encourage greater turnout by increasing penalties on any effort to block voter access and moving our electoral system into the 21st century,\’\’ the governor said.

Merrill called Wednesday\’s vote \”a historic and significant step forward for modernizing elections in Connecticut.\” She noted that 32 states permit some form of early voting or no-excuse absentee ballots; 30 million Americans cast early ballots in the 2012 presidential election.

“This is about allowing Connecticut voters cast their ballots in a way that works better with their busy mobile lives, and in turn getting more voters to participate in democracy,\’\’ Merrill said. \”Early voting works, it is very reliable, and there is no reason we couldn’t make it work in Connecticut.\”

But critics said the legislation was vaguely worded and could lead to a host of unanticipated changes to the way Connecticut conducts elections, including online voting. \”It is, in my opinion, a carte blanche to change voting laws going forward,\’\’ Sen. Scott Frantz, R-Greenwich, said near the start of nearly three hours of debate on the measure.

Republicans tried three times to amend the resolution, including adding a proposal that would have allowed military personnel stationed abroad to waive their right to a private ballot in order to vote by email or fax. Such a provision would boost turnout among members of the military, supporters said, but the measure was defeated.

Unlike many other states, Connecticut has fairly restrictive rules regarding absentee ballots. Under current law, voters seeking absentee ballots must provide a reason why they cannot be at the polls on Election Day. Valid excuses include military deployment, travelling out of state for business and illness. But Merrill and others say that, in an age when people travel a great deal, such requirements don\’t make sense and absentee ballots should be available to anyone who seeks one — no excuses.

About 74 percent of registered voters in Connecticut cast ballots in the November, 2012 election, a turnout level Merrill called \”very healthy\” since portions of the state were still reeling from Storm Sandy, which hit the state just days earlier.

Yet Merrill said even more people would cast ballots if Connecticut permitted early voting and election-day registration.

House Joint Resolution 36 passed the House on April 17. It was also approved by both houses of the General Assembly during the 2012 legislative session.

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30 thoughts on “Connecticut Senate Gives Final Approval To Constitutional Amendment On Early Voting

  1. Ralph

    I have to question the concept behind this amendment – specifically that we get better government if a greater percentage of the population votes. People who are aware and informed of the issues will cast their votes no matter what. Those who vote only if it is convenient and easy add little to the discussion of important issues.

    This is a purely partisan issue. Democrats, by and large, are in favor of the amendment because they feel, rightly or wrongly, that these marginal voters will vote for Democratic candidates. Republicans are against the issue for the same reason.

  2. Joe Black

    This is being pitched as a way to enhance democracy. That’s patently false. This is a power grab by Democrats. This Constitutional Amendment gives power to change voting laws to politicians. These juvenile delinquents don’t need more power, they need less. We gave them the ability to tax our income as a way to stabilize our finances and look where that got us. These people can’t take care of business they have. Somehow they’re going to take a vague proposal and not whore it out for their own use? Don Williams already is moving this year to ban cross endorsement of candidates – in effect limiting choices and harming third parties in the democratic process. Now we are to believe this is about more votes? Shame on people who once every two years can’t drag their sorry arses to the polls to vote. Busy schedules? My god, the polls are open from 6am til 8pm. Nobody works those hours.

  3. Lawrence

    Republicans and other right-wingers talk a good game about freedom and democracy, then usually run screaming in the other direction when confronted with an opportunity to expand freedom and democracy.

    This is a perfect example of Republicans AFRAID of more democracy and more and different people voting, because it will reveal Republican public policies for the failures that they are, and will undercut the efforts of Republican billionaires to affect elections with the expense of millions of dollars in false advertising.

    Democracy wins, Republicans lose. Remember that in 2014 and 2016!!

    1. Connecticut is Circling the Drain

      What Lawrence of Libtardia doesn’t tell you is these bills serve to pump up Democrat votes as they help mobilize urban entitlement voters.

      Meanwhile, Lawrence’s party resists efforts to require ID cards for all voters even though the rest of us routinely need an ID to vote. Ever wonder why? However, Lawrence’s party sees no issue with allowing illegal (future Democrat voters) to have driver’s licenses.

      More hypocrisy from the party of tolerance and transparency.

      1. Mr. T

        Are you suggesting that only Suburban white folks should get to vote? how very progressive of you.

        Many, many states have early voting. The GOP really needs to work on ideas and good candidates if they want to start winning again in CT.

        Criticizing early voting just shows how bankrupt the GOP is.

        1. Connecticut is Circling the Drain

          I made no such suggestion about excluding anyone from voting. That is a red herring and you know it.

          You, of course, in your attempt to take the moral high ground, completely ignore all the ballot rigging and voting fraud committed by YOUR party each election cycle. You are the same people who scream when voter ID cards are suggested to ensure one legal vote per voter.

          What is bankrupt is the hypocrisy of the left and the cover the liberal media provides for it.

        2. Jim

          Are you suggesting that folks who are not white suburbanites can’t get to the polling place? I find it interesting that you (a democrat/progressive?) don’t have any faith in the ability of non white urbanites to figure out how to get to the polls to vote?

  4. johngaltwhereru

    This piece is starved for details on how this would work.

    When would early voting start? Could the residents of Bridgeport, New Haven, Hartford and Waterbury just go ahead and vote for the 2014 Democrat Ticket today, without knowing the candidates?

    What if a voter dies between their vote and election day?

    What if the Democrat Candidate is incarcerated and removed from the ticket in the time between the early vote and the candidate’s removal from eligibility? Would that vote just be forwarded to the Democrat replacement?

    What steps are being taken to mitigate the rampant absentee voter fraud which has occurred in recent elections?

    1. Kim

      This is SOP for Democrats and libs, JG. Witness the recent anti-gun, anti-business legislation that was passed BEFORE it was completed. They’re filling in the blanks now (well, the State Police are). Now THAT is good lawmaking

      1. johngaltwhereru

        It seems this bill is intentionally vague so election laws can be easily manipulated to benefit the needs of the majority party at a moments notice.

        As Senator Scott Frantz said, this is carte blanche to change election laws going forward.

        BTW, the voter suppression argument is pure garbage. Connecticut polls are open from 6am to 8pm. Are we to believe there is a significant number of oppressed minorities that work a continuous 14 hours on Tuesdays? I find that to be highly unlikely. Perhaps you should need to show proof of your 70 hour work week in order to obtain an early voting ballot.

    2. Mr. T

      I suggest you read the article again. This is ONLY about a bill to amend the constitution to allow such voting. The particulars of such early voting would still have to be crafted in the legislature, the following year. Again, this doesn’t create the early voting procedure, just lets the legislators create (or not create) such bills.

      It’s funny. I used to live in a state that has had early voting for 10+ years and they’ve managed to figure it out. I think CT can do the same.

      1. Johngaltwhereru

        I read the article. As I said, it is intentionally vague to allow the majority to write rules to benefit themselves in the future.

        As you said, the particulars are to be crafted by the legislature the following year. Legislature=Democrat Majority.

        Are you under the impression that this crafting will have input from Republicans? Are you under the impression that Democrats are going to include a single provision that fails to directly benefit their party?

        As a Democrat, it is understandable you would like this legislation. But let’s not pretend it is anything more than Democrats solidifying their power through any means necessary.

      2. Bo Dega

        Mr. T:

        you will get nowhere with Johngalt, aka Dr Picklehead – a man who likes to intellectually spare for its own sake in Libertarian lexicon. His sidekick, Kim, aka a sociopath who was once busted for molesting children, chimes in when someone tussles with his beloved Johngalt.

        No matter how reasonable you try to argue a point, these dueling twosome will attack you with faulty reasoning.

        1. johngaltwhereru

          Billy,

          Any rebuttal of the substance of my post?

          Do you deny that it will be an unrestrained Democrat Majority writing the rules, and they are unlikely to include rules that are unfavorable to their hold on power?

          Mr. T could sway my opinion under certain circumstances. A liberal on these pages has changed my mind on 2 issues. Both times the poster presented a reasoned, fact based, logical argument.

          Pretending the goal of this legislation is anything other than an attempt to solidify a Liberal majority, and that the rules will be written in anything other than a manner to attain that objective meets none of the aforementioned criteria.

          1. Bo Dega

            Dr. Picklehead,

            I know you too well. You are so infused with your Libertarian ideals that everything you approach must fit from this view point.

            Least I deny that extended or early voting benefits urban environments, I do recognize that this proviso gives more people the capacity and opportunity to vote. People have struggled and died for the right of enfranchisement (mostly African American but certainly not exclusively) and every time you open your trap, it is in reference to Black folks being given something like, in this instance, the right to vote.

            It has been proven that Republicans has used dirty tricks and harassment in keeping minorities from the polls.

            Indeed, for the same open door policy that allowed both your ancestors and mine to enter this country, now Mexicans will eventually have this right as adopted Americans. And, God willing, a great majority of them will not forget the conservatives sought log to keep them marginalized.

            I have a Mexican recipe for you to try:

            Buenos Dias Baked Potatoes; Bake a potato and put guacomoli and quessa and tomato on it.

            Get used to it, brother – along with a massive influx of democratic voters. A horde.

            Repeate despues me: “Buenos dias, senior.”

            Se ya at the polls. And Texas? Un ultra stato democratico mannana.

            And if you visit Mexico to get familiar with your no our new barrioists, no beve l’agua.

          2. johngaltwhereru

            Billy,

            First, this bill does not give minorities the right to vote. That right was procurred in 1870.

            Next issue: I never mentioned blacks. That is your issue. I said minorities. There are far more hispanics than blacks in CT.

            On to dirty tricks: Like Black Panther members swinging weapons outside polling stations?
            Or passing out ballots with only the Democrat’s name on it in minority communities. Or forging signatures to get someone on the ballot. Or paying people to go vote. Or finding a sack of ballots with just enough votes to surpass the current deficit after the polls closed.

            Onto immigration. My ancestors came through the front door at Ellis Island. If you think it is a good idea to allow 20 million uneducated unskilled Mexicans, Syrians, Libyans Iranians, Russians, ect. to sneak into the US without restriction, then reward them with citizenship at a cost of $6.3 Trillion in benefits, that is your problem, and one I no longer have to deal with.

            Interesting thing in CR, they just say Buenos. No hola. No Buenos Dias, Tardes or Noches. Simply Buenos.

        2. Kim

          of course you couldn’t resist the personal attacks and name-calling gollum billy, with no provocation whatsoever. Just one more example of your compulsive lying and insincere offers to stop the nonsense. I knew it wouldn’t last.

          The readers will bear witness to this continuing hypocrisy katzman.

          And the lies about children are particulary egregious. I may take action against that

  5. DR

    Excellent idea. One of the few (maybe the only) good ideas to come out of CT’s Democratic leadership.

    Early voting has the potential to increase participation, makes voting easier and more flexible for those who would be voting anyway, and has shown to be manageable and successful in other states that have adopted it.

    I’m all for reasonable measures to make voting easier and more accessible.

  6. Joe Sixpack

    The amendment gives the General Assembly the power to make any changes to voting laws for people who cannot show up on election day – and they can now do so by a majority vote, rather than a supermajority that the Constitution required. So the protections contained in the Constitution that prevent a majority party from running roughshod over election laws is now gone.

    The story also fails to mention how the Dems voted down a GOP amendment that would have changed the Constitution to allow active duty military personnel stationed overseas to waive the righ to a “secret ballot” if they wanted to make sure their ballot was returned in time to be counted, by fax or email.

    But nowhere in the article does it mention the Dems making it harder on armed forces voters, or even actively suppressing their right to have their ballots counted.

  7. Sharpshooter

    The reasons for the proposed amendment sound pretty flimsy to me, but I would be in favor as long as there were a provision that the early ballots were not counted until all other ballots were counted on election day. This is not the way it works in most states and revealing the ‘early’ ballot results prior to counting all others could have an affect on the way the rest of the electorate votes.

  8. Mike Steven

    I don’t really understand the full concept of early voting if you will be around of the day of the election (even if your busy). I see it just fine under out current laws in which you have to explain why you will not be able to vote on election day.

    That being said, I would like to have the day of the election as a state and national holiday so that everyone has the ability to show up and vote at their registered polling stations. I think something of the experience is missed out when you don’t vote on election day with the rest of the masses.

    As far as using ID to register. I show it and I don’t think its a burden for anyone to do the same. If it is an issue, then we should do what they do in Iraq. Have your finger dipped in ink to represent that you voted once.

    1. bill

      Another good point, Mile. I think moving it to Saturday could be a viable alternative. No problem with the ink. See/ Liberals can agree with solutions from non liberals.

      1. Paul Lando

        That works too but it would be nice if it was a holiday.. We could use another holiday, it is not like we have that many compared to the Europeans ;).

        1. Johngaltwhereru

          Having election day on a holiday would quickly be deemed racist.

          Retail and fast food workers have to work on holidays, and minorities tend to work in those fields.

          To be clear, any change in voting laws that fail to directly benefit Democrats will immediately be deemed racist.

          1. Connecticut is Circling the Drain

            Good point Doc. There will be no change in voting process until there is a clear demonstration of advantage to the Democrat party.

            Bueno. How’s the weather down south?

  9. The Conn-servative

    This is just another mechanism to coddle the inner city and illegal immigrant vote. It’s all tied together.We have politicians,i.e. thieves,who are going out of their way at the expense of all of the others who play by the rules,to make things easier for the have nots,even if it is against the spirit of the law. There are three sets of rules/laws in this state: 1.For those who are of inner city/questionable citizen status 2.Those politically or legally connected and 3. Everyone else who plays and works and is a citizen. When # 2(and that’s what they are!) aides and abets #1, #3 pays and suffers.Period.

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