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    Sunday, May 26, 2024

    Early voting in Connecticut: About time

    Early in-person voting in Connecticut is finally on the way. On May 4, the Connecticut House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved the rules for 14 days of early voting starting in 2024. The proposal is expected to win Senate adoption and be signed into law by Gov. Ned Lamont.

    The Day Editorial Board has joined other advocates in pushing for this change for years and applauds its pending arrival. Participation in the democratic process should be encouraged. Making voting more convenient does that. Busy schedules and job demands can make getting to a polling station on Election Day difficult. Starting in 2024 there will be no excuses for missing the opportunity to vote.

    The biggest question is what took so long. Connecticut is one of only four states with no form of early in-person voting. This is indeed the land of steady habits. It will be good to break the habit of allowing voting only on Election Day.

    Votes gave solid backing to the idea, with 59% approving a constitutional amendment to allow the legislature to set the rules for early voting.

    Fourteen days of voting was the longest of several options proposed by the Office of the Secretary of the State, based on a study of the matter. Secretary of the State Stephanie Thomas had recommended 10 days.

    The 10-day window would have attracted greater bipartisan support, which would have been a welcome way to start this new democratic experiment for the state. The 14-day measure passed the House 107-35, with 15 Republicans joining all 92 Democrats in approving it. The Republican minority had backed an amendment with a 10-day provision.

    But this is a small matter. Most importantly, both major parties supported the idea of early voting, only quibbling over details.

    The legislation provides a shorter early voting period for elections other than the November general election: seven days for state and local primaries, four days for special elections and presidential primaries. This makes sense.

    Next up is passage of financial aid to cities and towns to cover the added costs of early voting, primarily staffing. Early voting is estimated to add $4.5 million to election costs.

    The biggest challenge will be finding poll workers for extended voting. For some municipalities it has been a problem finding staffing for Election Day alone. Some of the state aid should be used for a promotional campaign urging people to step up and work at the polls. It is a great way for folks to show their support for our democracy.

    The Day editorial board meets with political, business and community leaders to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Timothy Dwyer, Executive Editor Izaskun E. Larraneta, Owen Poole, copy editor, and Lisa McGinley, retired deputy managing editor. The board operates independently from The Day newsroom.

    Comment threads are monitored for 48 hours after publication and then closed.