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Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy announced yesterday that he is issuing an executive order to study the issue of vote-by-mail. CTNewsJunkie has more:
There was an audible groan from the Republican side of the House chamber Wednesday when Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced plans to study whether Connecticut should allow voting by mail. He also said he will try again to pass early voting.
“Let us not waste a moment in our effort to make voting easier and more accessible,” Malloy said Wednesday during his speech to the General Assembly. “Let’s plan ahead. Let’s look at best practices around the nation for increasing voter participation.”
In an effort to get the dialogue going, Malloy signed an executive order that would study the issue of “vote by mail…”
“Voting by mail is likely to reduce time spent waiting in voting lines and lower the burdens and costs for local registrars and election workers on Election Day, making it easier for more people to cast their votes with convenience and in privacy,” Malloy’s executive order states.
Secretary of the State Denise Merrill has testified that 37 states have early voting.
In order to change when voters can vote in Connecticut, voters would first have to agree to change the constitution, which currently doesn’t allow for it.
An effort to change Connecticut’s constitution to allow for early voting passed the House last year by a vote of 78-70, but it failed to get called for a vote in the Senate.
The Governor is trying to cast the proposals as a non-partisan reform, but reaction reflects the usual partisan split:
Early voting is part of an agenda being pushed by Democratic legislative leadership.
House Majority Leader Matt Ritter, D-Hartford, said if a person is working two part-time jobs then it’s not inconceivable that they would be unable to get to a polling place in the 14 hours the polls are open on Election Day.
He said modernizing Connecticut’s voting system should not be a partisan issue, but based on last year’s vote it definitely is a partisan issue. Only two Republicans in the House joined Democrats in voting for the early voting resolution last year.
There was no organized effort to defeat the legislation last year and only a few people testified against it during a public hearing.
Luther Weeks of CTVotersCount testified that contrary to the benefits, early voting decreases turnout. He said academic research has shown that early voting, including voting by mail, decreases turnout by three percent.
During his speech Wednesday Malloy said “our modern lives and busy schedules don’t always align with a 14-hour block of time for voting. People who work hard and follow the rules should be able to express their most fundamental democratic right.”
Melissa Russell, president of the Registrars Voters Association of Connecticut, testified that they are supportive of studying the issue of “early voting.”
Connecticut does have same-day voter registration that allows eligible voters to sign-up and vote on Election Day.
Only about 7 to 9 percent of voters vote using absentee ballots. Absentee ballots are restricted to those unable to get to the polls because they won’t be in state, are members of the military serving overseas, or are prevented by an illness or a religious belief from physically being at the polls on Election Day.
Here’s the meat of the order:
Given the partisan breakdown and the need to put the question to voters, it’s likely that vote-by-mail won’t be coming quickly to the Nutmeg State – but you can bet it will generate lots of activity (and maybe some heat) in this election year. Stay tuned …