June 3, 2021

No-Excuse Absentee Voting Gets Final Approval from Democrats in the State Senate; Voters Decide in 2024 with One More Vote

HARTFORD – Despite near unanimous Republican objection to improving democracy in Connecticut, Democrats in the state Senate today approved a measure that will allow residents to decide in 2024 whether our state should allow for “no excuse” absentee voting in Connecticut – thereby removing the state’s current restrictions for voting absentee.

The state Senate voted 27-9 to approve House Joint Resolution 58, “A RESOLUTION PROPOSING A STATE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT TO ALLOW NO-EXCUSE ABSENTEE VOTING.” If approved a second time by the Legislature in 2023, the measure will be considered by Connecticut voters at the polls in November 2024. State Senator Will Haskell (D-Westport), Senate Vice Chair of the Government Administration and Elections Committee, joined the Senate in approving the ballot measure.

“In the most recent election, emergency measures were taken to ensure that voters could participate from the comfort and safety of their own home. Why should that level of democratic accessibility go away when the pandemic comes to an end?” said Sen. Haskell. “This bill is about empowering voters — regardless of which candidate or party they support. I’m disappointed that the resolution was subject to such a partisan divide in the Senate, but I’m confident that Connecticut residents will decide to modernize our elections when they head to the polls in 2024.”

The resolution proposes a constitutional amendment to remove Connecticut’s current constitutional restrictions on absentee voting. Connecticut currently only allows absentee voting in five very particular circumstances:

  1. you’re out of town all day on Election Day
  2. you’re sick or have a physical disability and cannot make it in-person to the polls
  3. your religion forbids you from any secular activity on Election Day
  4. you’re on active duty in the Armed Forces; or
  5. you’re an election official whose duties will keep you from voting on Election Day.

73% of all Connecticut voters support expanding access to absentee ballots to all voters without requiring an excuse, including 90% of Democrats, 75% of unaffiliated voters and almost half of all Republicans.

In November 2020, during the coronavirus pandemic and after legislative Democrats allowed for people to vote from home to avoid contracting COVID-19, more than a third of all the ballots cast in Connecticut were cast by absentee: 650,000 out of 1.8 million ballots cast.

As of 2020, 34 other U.S. states had no-excuses absentee voting laws on their books: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Delaware and New Hampshire are also considering legislation this year to allow for no-excuse absentee voting.