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Easing toward voting reform

It turns out there is more than one way to make absentee voting more accessible in Connecticut.

While we would prefer a state constitutional change that would allow no-excuse absentee voting — meaning a citizen can use that option without having to explain why — we welcome a bill approved in the House of Representatives that at least expands the absentee opportunities.

The Connecticut Constitution allows absentee ballot voting due to “absence from the city or town of which they are inhabitants or because of sickness, or physical disability.”

The General Assembly is empowered to enact voting rules as long as they fall within those constitutional parameters. Recall that in the 2020 election, the legislature expanded the “sickness” provision to include fear of sickness due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The rule change was for that election only.

The bill drafted by Rep. Matt Blumenthal, D-Stamford, would now define “because of sickness” to include care for an ill elderly family member or because of concern for getting sick.

And the definition of “absence” would expand to include absence from the community for part of Election Day, such as commuting to work, allowing such residents to opt for the convenience of an absentee ballot.

Twenty-three Republicans joined 94 Democrats in voting for the legislation, which passed 117 to 28. We urge more bipartisan support when the Senate votes on — and should approve — the legislation.

Voting reform is coming to Connecticut. Too slowly, perhaps, but assuredly.

In 2022 voters will decide whether to approve a constitutional amendment that would allow early voting in Connecticut for the first time. If voters approve, which we are confident they will, the details will be set by the legislature. Connecticut is among the last states to require voting on Election Day only.

Unfortunately, voters will have to wait until the 2024 election to vote on a constitutional amendment to allow no-excuse absentee voting. Republican opposition blocked the super majority that would have also sent that question to voters in 2022.

But in the meantime, this tweaking of the absentee-ballot rules is welcome news.

 

The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Tim Dwyer, Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere, Managing Editor Izaskun E. Larrañeta, staff writer Erica Moser and retired deputy managing editor Lisa McGinley. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.

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