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Voting-Rights Group Cheers West Hartford Resolution on Absentee Ballots

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Secretary of State Denise Merrill announced she will send absentee-ballot applications to all registered voters. (Flickr_1)
Secretary of State Denise Merrill announced she will send absentee-ballot applications to all registered voters. (Flickr_1)
June 2, 2020

WEST HARTFORD, Ct. -- A movement is growing to press the Legislature to make vote-by-mail easier in November in light of the COVID-19 crisis.

Last night, the West Hartford Special Advisory Committee on Social and Community Recovery voted to ask the full council to support a resolution calling on state lawmakers to make fear of COVID-19 a legitimate excuse to vote by mail in November.

Tom Swan, executive director of Connecticut Citizens Action Group, said momentum is building.

"We're hoping that towns throughout the state and civic organizations pass resolutions to demand the Legislature act to protect their vote in November," Swan said.

Gov. Ned Lamont recently declared that fear of COVID-19 is an approved reason to request an absentee ballot for the August 11 primary - but it won't apply in the presidential election unless the Legislature takes action.

President Donald Trump and some of his allies in the Connecticut Legislature have said voting by mail invites fraud. But studies have shown that security measures in place to protect absentee ballots are highly effective.

Swan said he'd like the Legislature to convene a special session in June but fears that may not happen until August or September.

"I think opposition to people being able to vote from home during the current pandemic is a losing proposition, and we will prevail in time for people to be able to vote safely in November," he said.

Advocates also are pressing for an amendment to the state constitution to allow no-excuse absentee voting. Last session, a bill to put such a measure on the 2020 ballot failed - so supporters intend to try again in 2022.

Support for this reporting comes from the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Disclosure: Carnegie Corporation of New York contributes to our fund for reporting on Civic Engagement. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - CT