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    Sunday, June 23, 2024

    More absentee ballots mean more corruption in elections

    Judging by voter participation in Connecticut's most recent municipal elections, Hartford may be the most demoralized place in the state.

    The Hearst Connecticut newspapers report that only 14% of Hartford residents who are registered to vote did so in last year's municipal election, when the city had the lowest voter participation among all Connecticut municipalities. The city's voter participation rate is actually far worse than reported, since, as with all other municipalities, many eligible residents don't even register to vote.

    What is the City Council's idea for curing this civic demoralization? It's to diminish election security by mailing absentee ballot applications for future elections to all residents on the voter rolls.

    Of course absentee ballots have been at the center of the recent election corruption scandals in Bridgeport, where absentee ballot applications have been pressed on people who did not apply for them and completed absentee ballots have been stuffed by political operatives into unsecured ballot deposit boxes.

    Absentee ballots are a necessity of democracy but for election security their use should be minimized, not increased. For the more a voter is separated from the in-person casting of his vote, the more potential there will be for corruption. Requests for absentee ballots should be scrutinized for validation as much as the casting of completed ballots in person should be.

    The Republican minority in the General Assembly is serious about this issue. The Democratic majority is not.

    The Republicans propose to outlaw the mailing of unsolicited absentee ballot applications, to require people voting by absentee ballot to include a copy of an identification document bearing a photo, to require municipalities to provide voters with photo identification without charge, the cost to be reimbursed by state government; to require municipalities to update and audit their voter rolls regularly, and to suspend use of absentee ballot deposit boxes, since the U.S. mail can do the job more securely.

    Democrats in Connecticut oppose requiring voters to present photo identification. The Democrats also support nullification of federal immigration law. This may not be a coincidence.

    Pleading poverty

    Should poor people have to obey the law in Connecticut? Legislation approved by the General Assembly's Judiciary Committee suggests that poverty should confer exemption from the law.

    The legislation, sponsored by four Democratic state representatives, would forbid the suspension of driver's licenses for people who have failed to appear in court as ordered or who have failed to pay fines. Suspension of the driver's licenses of people who ignore court orders and judgments has been an incentive for obeying the law.

    The rationale of the legislation is that poor people are less able to take time off from work to attend court and less able to pay fines, and of course they are. But if poverty is to excuse people from respect the law and the courts, why should they obey any law at all?

    Connecticut's courts already carry hundreds of cases of failure to appear. If the Judiciary Committee's legislation is enacted, the state is sure to experience much more contempt for law and an ever-growing inventory of "failure to appears" — and somehow the Democrats will call it justice.

    Dillon improved Bradley

    In recent years Connecticut has put many millions of dollars into Bradley International Airport. Though the correlation between spending and improvement in state government is usually weak, the airport has improved much since the Connecticut Airport Authority was created to operate it and the other state-owned airports in 2013.

    For the 11 years since then Kevin A. Dillon has been the authority's executive director, overseeing a great expansion of service at Bradley — more international and nonstop flights, more airlines, better facilities and more passengers, though the passenger total from the year prior to the virus epidemic has not quite been surpassed yet.

    Bradley makes a huge contribution to Connecticut's economy, its business environment and quality of life, for which Dillon must be credited. He plans to retire early next year and before he leaves the authority should name something after him.

    Chris Powell has written about Connecticut government and politics for many years. He can be reached at CPowell@cox.net.

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