January 29, 2019

Haskell Announces Legislation to Make Voting Easier

Today, State Senator Will Haskell (D-Westport) announced that he has submitted two new voting rights bills to the General Assembly. If enacted, these proposals would allow easier access to absentee ballots and permit early voting.

“Democracy functions best when every citizen has an opportunity to make his or her voice heard,” said Sen. Haskell. “Whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat, I think we can all agree that every eligible voter should be encouraged to cast a ballot.”

“An Act Concerning the Secretary of the State and Absentee Voting,” Senate Bill 156, would modernize our elections by creating an electronic online portal for requesting absentee ballots. That portal would allow any elector to submit a request for an absentee ballot through the Secretary of State’s website.

“When I voted absentee, I had to print out a paper form and mail it to my town clerk. Then, I received a paper ballot in the mail,” Sen. Haskell said. “It’s time to bring this process into the 21st century. We can preserve thorough integrity of our elections and maintain paper ballots while facilitating greater access to absentee ballot requests.”

This bill would reform current state statutes that limit access to absentee ballots. According to the Secretary of the State’s office, only active members of the armed forces, individuals with illnesses, religious beliefs or physical disabilities preventing them from voting in person, election officials working at polling places other than their own, and those who will be out of town on Election Day can vote absentee under current state laws.

“This bill is about helping working parents, commuters and students to participate in our democratic process,” said Sen. Haskell.

“A Resolution Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution to Permit Early Voting,” Senate Joint Resolution 9, would allow regular access to early voting before Election Day.

Connecticut is one of just 11 states that does not permit early voting, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

“When states provide additional opportunities to vote outside of a single day in November, voter participation rates increase,” said Sen. Haskell. “As the Vice-Chair of the Government Administration and Elections Committee, I take seriously the responsibility to make our elections fair and accessible. Rather than retreating into our partisan corners, let’s work together to make sure every citizen, regardless of his or her ideology, has a chance to cast a ballot.”

About Will Haskell: State Senator Will Haskell was first elected in 2018 to represent the twenty-sixth Senate District which consists of Westport, Wilton, Ridgefield, Redding and parts of Bethel, New Canaan and Weston. Prior to being elected to the State Senate, he worked for the Democratic National Committee, and helped launch the Free Speech Project, an academic endeavor based at Georgetown University, his alma mater. He has previously worked for the Connecticut Office of the Public Defender, the Capitol Hill offices of Congressman Jim Himes and Senator Chris Murphy, and Hillary for America.