Saud Anwar

State Senator

Saud Anwar

Deputy President Pro Tempore

Working For You

July 28, 2020

Senator Anwar Applauds Passage of Expanded Absentee Voting Law in Connecticut

Senate Photo

HARTFORD – Democratic State Senator Saud Anwar (D-South Windsor applauded the final passage in the Senate today of a bill that will allow Connecticut citizens who are concerned about contracting the coronavirus at a polling location this year to vote instead by mail – an option which had previously been denied them.

The Senate today approved House Bill 6002, “AN ACT CONCERNING ABSENTEE VOTING AT THE 2020 STATE ELECTION AND ELECTION DAY REGISTRATION,” by a vote of 35-1; the bill overwhelmingly passed the House of Representatives last week and now heads to Governor Lamont, who is expected to sign the bill into law.

“Today, I voted for, and the Senate approved, legislation that will benefit democracy by ensuring all can cast their votes safely and easily,” said Sen. Anwar. “I am proud of our accomplishments today knowing folks will have the option during the elections to use an absentee ballot and not have to risk their health during a pandemic.”

Connecticut law currently only allows its state residents to vote by absentee ballot for six specific reasons:

  • If the voter is on active duty with the U.S. Armed Forces
  • If the voter will be absent from town during the entire time that polls are open
  • If the voter is ill
  • If the voter has a physical disability which prevents them from voting in person
  • If the voter’s religion prohibits them from voting that day
  • Or if the voter is working at the polls in a primary, election or referendum

But the global COVID-19 pandemic, which has infected more than 48,000 people in Connecticut and killed more than 4,400 state residents, has raised concerns about standing in line at the polls, or voting in a crowded polling location – especially for the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions, who are particularly susceptible to the coronavirus.

The solution is (House or Senate bill number), which amends Connecticut law for 2020 only to allow for absentee voting due to “the sickness of COVID-19.”

The bill also allows any person who is in line to vote before polls close at 8 p.m. to access Connecticut’s “same-day registration” procedure at that polling location, as long as they meet all of the state’s voter eligibility requirements; existing state law only allows for same-day voter registration from 6 a.m. until 8 p.m. at specific locations in town, but then the voter must proceed to their own local polling place in order to cast their vote.

The issue of expanded absentee voting in Connecticut received widespread support at last week’s public hearing on the bill, when nearly 250 people submitted testimony online or via email. The bill was supported by the AARP, the League of Women Voters, ConnPIRG, the ACLU, the CCAG, disability rights advocates, religious leaders, retirees, civic organizations, municipal officials, social workers, and hundreds of others.

Connecticut has an unusually low absentee voting record when compared to America as a whole. There have been 21.7 million ballots cast in Connecticut over the past 32 years, with only 1.5 million cast via absentee ballot – just seven percent all votes cast, according to online statistics from the Secretary of the State’s office.

But in 2018, 23% of all U.S. residents voted via absentee ballot, according to the U.S. Census – more than three times Connecticut’s average. In 2018, only 60% of Americans physically voted in-person at a polling location, while in Connecticut, 94% of state residents voted in-person.