Norm Needleman


Norm Needleman



May 6, 2021

Senator Needleman Joins Senate Democrats to Extend Absentee Ballot Option for Connecticut Voters Through November 3

HARTFORD – Despite unanimous Republican opposition, Connecticut Senate Democrats approved a bill early this morning that will extend the option to vote by absentee ballot to all Connecticut voters through November 3, thereby allowing residents to participate in local budget or referendum votes, mayoral and town council elections, school board elections and other electoral processes without the fear of any potential public health concerns. State Senator Norm Needleman (D-Essex) voted in support of the legislation.

Senate Democrats approved an amended version of Senate Bill 901 today on a 24-12 vote; the bill now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration. The bill received zero Republican votes when it was passed out of the Government Administration and Elections Committee on March 5, and received zero Republican votes when it was approved by the Appropriations Committee on Monday.

“Absentee ballot expansion allowed countless Connecticut voters to cast their ballots in the way they felt most comfortable in the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Sen. Needleman. “During times with significant community spread of the virus, absentee ballots allowed November’s general election and special elections over the winter to go on as scheduled, with residents able to choose how they wanted to cast their ballots. The COVID-19 situation appears to be improving in our state, but given the virus’s unpredictable behavior, it’s prudent to make sure these standards remain in place through the end of the year. I hope in the future we can continue to deliver increased flexibility to voters to participate in the process how they best wish.”

S.B. 901 extends through November 3 certain temporary changes that were made to state law for the 2020 elections due to the deadly COVID-19 viral pandemic. Among other provisions, the bill:

  • Expands the reasons people can vote by absentee ballot to include the COVID-19 sickness
  • Authorizes town clerks to mail absentee voting sets using a third-party vendor that the secretary of the state approves and selects
  • Requires town clerks to designate secure drop boxes and allows voters to deposit absentee ballots in them
  • Authorizes municipalities to conduct certain absentee ballot pre-counting procedures
  • Despite today’s action, public voting rights in Connecticut remain severely outdated and restrictive. For instance, Connecticut remains one of just 16 states in America that does not offer “no-excuses” absentee voting, and is one of just six states in America that doesn’t offer early voting, joining Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire and South Carolina in restricting the rights of its citizens.

Today’s successful vote by Senate Democrats comes amid a national debate about expanding democracy to more Americans in the face of fierce and determined Republican legislative efforts to disenfranchise voters at the state level.

For example, the chief executives of Michigan’s 30 largest corporations – including Ford, General Motors and Quicken Loans – publicly came out in opposition to proposed changes by Michigan Republicans to make voting more difficult in that state. Nevada Republicans have censured their own secretary of state for refusing to investigate bogus Republican claims of supposed election fraud there. Arizona and Texas Republicans are pushing new state laws to limit mail-in voting and instituting other anti-democracy restrictions, and Major League Baseball pulled the planned 2021 All-Star Game of Atlanta, Georgia in protest of Republican efforts there to institute more restrictive voting regulations.