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Applauding Connecticut's voting reforms

Among our top editorial priorities for the 2021 legislative session was passage of reforms making voting easier and more accessible in Connecticut. In that regard the outcome has been largely positive.

In November 2022 Connecticut voters will get to decide on a proposed state constitutional amendment that would for the first time allow early voting. We anticipate overwhelming support. It took approval of the proposed amendment in two legislative sessions to send the question to voters. If approved, the legislature would set up the early voting rules in 2023.

All 23 Senate Democrats voted in favor, only three Republicans out of 12 did so. We are happy to report, however, that two of them were local senators — Paul Formica of East Lyme and Heather Somers of Groton.

The House approved the question on a 115-26 vote three weeks ago.

Also winning approval this session was an amendment which, if approved by voters, would allow no-excuse absentee voting. No more having to swear you are going to be out of town or are ill in order to utilize the convenience of an absentee ballot. Unfortunately, it did not receive the three-quarters super majority that would have sent it right to voters in 2022, again because of Republican opposition. But after winning approval in a coming session (that seems a sure thing) the question will go to voters in 2024.

In the meantime, the legislature is expected to approve, and Gov. Ned Lamont sign, a stop-gap measure that will broaden the use of absentee ballots. The definition of “illness” will be expanded to include caring for a sick family member and concern about exposure to disease, such as the flu.

Going forward, absence from the area will not have to be all day, but could be part of the day, which can indeed make it difficult for people to find the time to vote.

Other changes expected to become law will expand automatic voter registration programs and make permanent the absentee ballot drop boxes erected during the pandemic.

While other states, in the hands of Republican legislatures, are acting in misguided fashion to put up new barriers to voting, it is good to see Connecticut — which has had among the most restrictive voting laws — moving in the other direction.

 

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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