Contact: Andrew Ammirati
April 18, 2012
State Senator Gayle Slossberg (D-Milford) today led passage of a historic joint resolution calling for an amendment to the state Constitution that would remove restrictions on absentee ballot voting.
The resolution is an early step in a long process that would eliminate barriers to absentee ballot voting, thus paving the way for consideration of progressive reforms such as early voting and no-excuse absentee ballot voting.
The Senate passed the resolution today, two weeks after it passed in the House. Both the House and Senate must pass the resolution again next year before it can go on the ballot as a question to voters in Connecticut. The earliest it could go on the ballot is 2014.
“Whether you are a commuter who doesn’t get home before the polls close or a caretaker who can’t leave the house to cast a ballot, your vote still matters,” Sen. Slossberg said. “People should not have to choose between their life obligations and their right to vote. That’s not a fair choice. This resolution starts the conversation about a possible change to our Constitution that would increase voter participation by making it easier for people to cast a ballot.”
As Senate chairwoman of the Government Administration and Election Committee, Sen. Slossberg led discussion about the resolution, which supporters say would strengthen the democratic process in Connecticut and encourage more citizens to exercise their right to vote. The resolution is part of a comprehensive voter reform package proposed this year by Governor Dannel P. Malloy and Secretary of the State Denise Merrill. That package also includes proposals for online and Election Day voter registration and a bill to increase penalties for voter intimidation and vote tampering.
Numerous citizens and voter rights advocates spoke in favor of the resolution at a public hearing on the matter last month. One of them was Susan Voris, election laws specialist for the League of Women Voters of Connecticut.
“The current laws limit the use of an absentee ballot to a handful of specific reasons and penalize those who may, in fact, benefit most from using these ballots, such as commuters, family caregivers or the parents of young children,” Voris said in testimony submitted to the committee. “While each of these voters may have the intent to make it to the polls, their situations can be unpredictable; under current absentee ballot rules their right to vote is denied to them.”
At least 27 other states already allow no-excuse absentee voting, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
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