Matt Lesser

State Senator

Matt Lesser

Deputy Majority Leader

Your Independent Voice

March 23, 2022

Senate Democrats Take Action to Ease Restrictions Against Access to Absentee Ballots

Today, state Senator Matt Lesser (D-Middletown) joined his colleagues to ease restrictions against access to absentee ballots, making it easier for residents to participate in elections by that method. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, absentee ballots have provided a safe and simple way for residents concerned for their health to cast ballots; today’s vote on House Bill 5262 solidifies their options to do so.

“With tonight’s vote we’re moving to make it possible for everyone to cast a ballot without risk of catching – or transmitting a communicable disease,” said Sen. Lesser. “Connecticut for too long had the most restrictive rules on absentee ballots in the country. When we make voting safer and more convenient, we see much higher voter participation. In 2020, we saw locked and secured absentee ballot drop boxes in every town.”

House Bill 5262, “An Act Revising Certain Absentee Voting Eligibility Statutes,” expands two of the six reasons why qualified voters can participate in an election via absentee ballot. Under the bill, qualified voters may vote by absentee if they are unable to appear in person because of “sickness,” instead of their own illness, and due to “physical disability,” instead of their own physical disability. The bill also allows voters to cast ballots via absentee if they are unable to appear at their polling place due to absence from the town they are registered to vote in, updating language allowing that reason only in cases where a voter is absent during all hours of voting.

Senator Lesser also added, “This bill also closes the commuter loophole – which inadvertently makes criminals out of people who are present in their towns for even a single minute while voting is taking place. They will now be able to cast absentee ballots normally, if they’re unable to vote in person.”

The bill also modifies language to apply reasons for voting absentee to qualified voters who are unable to appear at their polling place during the day of an election, primary or referendum, expanding current language that only applies to those unable to appear during all hours of voting on that day.

The changes this legislation provides will be in place permanently.