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Connecticut needs to make it easier to vote

The East Lyme Democratic Town Committee believes that free and fair elections are the foundation of our democracy. We are troubled that Connecticut is one of only seven states that do not allow early in-person voting. Connecticut’s absentee ballot requirements are more restrictive than those of most states. Even Georgia’s new voting laws make the use of absentee ballots less difficult than in Connecticut. In addition, funding shortfalls result in a limited number of voting locations and long lines on Election Day. These problems prevent many people from making their voices heard.

In contrast to the regressive attempts in some states to enact legislation that discourages people from voting, we maintain that everything possible should be done to make voting as easy and convenient as possible for all eligible voters. The U.S. Census Bureau reported a significant increase in use of absentee ballots and early voting in the 2020 election resulting in the largest increase in voter turnout on record compared to the 2016 presidential election. We believe this trend can be continued in Connecticut even while maintaining the security of our votes. According to The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, there have been only four confirmed cases of voter fraud in Connecticut over the last decade.

Increasing the ability to vote for all those who cannot easily do so even though they are eligible (e.g., hourly workers, stay at home mothers/fathers, first responders, etc.), will result in elected officials who truly represent the diversity of Connecticut. Making changes in regulations to accommodate more eligible voters will not only result in a legislature that will more closely represent the thoughts of our citizens, but it will also reflect well on our state. To this end we urge all members of the Connecticut General Assembly to develop a bipartisan agenda to improve Connecticut voting laws. This agenda should include at least:

• Bipartisan support for a change in the state constitution to allow early voting

• Adequate funding to maintain the security of the election process

• Appropriations for additional voting locations in areas where long lines routinely occur

• A constitutional amendment to allow issuance of an absentee ballot to any eligible voter who requests one without requiring justification

• Legislation to prevent voter suppression

• A study of rank choice voting, which in other venues has been shown to increase the diversity of elected officials

• Creation of a commission to investigate ways to continue to improve voter turnout and maintain free and fair elections

In addition, we strongly believe unbiased facts concerning the referendum for an amendment to our state constitution to allow early voting should be widely publicized so Connecticut voters can make an informed decision on this important issue during the 2022 election.

Our current system is leading to a lack of confidence in our voting process. Although there are times when the results of an election may not be what some hoped for, elections that fail to represent the full range of opinions in our state will eventually lead to a loss of freedom and liberty for all of us.

The writer is the chairman of the East Lyme Democratic Town Committee.

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