February 22, 2021

As Election Committee Hears Potential of Expansion of Voting Access, Senator Haskell Has Constituents’ Wishes to Support in Mind

Today, as the Government Administrations and Elections Committee held a public hearing on key pieces of legislation seeking to expand increased public access to absentee and early voting, State Senator Will Haskell (D-Westport) was focused on his constituents’ wishes in considering the matter. A number of his constituents submitted testimony to the public hearing in strong support of the legislation, something Sen. Haskell will keep firmly in mind when considering the legislation in the near future.

“Our democratic process only works if our elections are accessible,” said Sen. Haskell. “As we fight to bring early voting and no-excuse absentee ballots to Connecticut, I’m so grateful that my constituents are making their voices heard on this matter. Their words inspire me to continue fighting to make sure every citizen has a convenient opportunity to vote.”

Monday’s public hearing centered on two constitutional resolutions introduced by the Government Administration and Elections Committee, of which Sen. Haskell is Senate Vice Chair. The first, proposing a state constitutional amendment to allow no-excuse absentee voting, would see voters in the 2022 statewide election decide whether to expand access to absentee ballots to anyone in the state for any reason. Current state law allows absentee ballot voting in only specific circumstances, such as if a voter will be out of town on Election Day or if they cannot physically visit a voting center. The second would similarly allow voters to amend the state constitution to permit early voting in the state. Connecticut is one of just seven states that do not currently allow early voting.

“I loved the ability to vote absentee this past November and the convenience of a ballot box outside Town Hall,” said Westport resident Gail Berritt in public testimony. “I would like those options to be available for all future elections. I would also like the ability to vote early in person. Connecticut legislators should let the voters decide if they want to make voting more convenient.”

“It is beyond time for Connecticut to join a preponderance of other states that allow better voting accessibility to all residents and, as such, a more vigorous democracy,” said Lisa Hannich of New Canaan. “It is a disservice to Connecticut constituents for our state to maintain an increasingly archaic practice of insisting that voting take place in person during a set time on just one day. People get sick, have family or job responsibilities, or ongoing disabilities that make such restrictive voting difficult, and everyone deserves and has a right to a voice in elections in spite of such ordinary difficulties.”

“It is time for Connecticut to move from being one of the most restrictive states in the country related to voting access to becoming a state that makes sure that every voter can participate without unnecessary barriers,” said Pamela Hovland of Wilton.

“When we design with accessibility in mind, everyone benefits,” said Alyssa MacKenzie of New Canaan. “Improving access to government is a manageable step to ensure all voices are heard on election day.”