While Connecticut has adopted some pro-voter practices like automatic voter registration, it still substantially trails most other blue states. With no early voting and a limited number of residents permitted to submit absentee ballots, Connecticut has serious steps to take to improve voting rights.
Connecticut’s 2019 legislative session has concluded. Stay tuned for how you can take action to expand voting rights in Connecticut next session.
Automatic Voter Registration- Automatic voter registration is available in Connecticut through the Department of Motor Vehicles.
RECOMMENDATION: HB 7160, which would have expanded AVR to other state agencies, passed the House but did not pass the Senate.
Online Voter Registration- Online voter registration is available to Connecticut residents up to seven days prior to the election. Voters may register if they will be 18 by the next election. However, registrants need a valid driver’s license, permit, or photo identification and signature on file with the Department of Motor Vehicles to use this system.
RECOMMENDATION: Revise the online process so that the absence of a DMV identification does not preclude a Connecticut resident from registering.
Same-Day Registration- Same-day registration is available, but only for general elections and the voter must register at a designated Election Day Registration (EDR) location in each town during polling hours. The voter may then vote at the EDR location with a proof of identity and residency.
RECOMMENDATION: HB 7160, which would have expanded access to same-day registration, passed the House but did not pass the Senate.
Voter ID Requirement- A form of identification is required to vote. However, there are a variety of identification options for voters, including non-photo identification. Voters may present a driver’s license, credit card with name and signature, ID with name and photo, or any document with name and address, such as a check or utility bill. Non-first-time voters may even sign an affidavit if no identification is available.
RECOMMENDATION: While Connecticut provides a plethora of identification options, the state should move away from identification requirements as part of the voting process.
Early Voting- Connecticut does not offer early voting.
RECOMMENDATION: HJ 161, which would create a constitutional amendment to implement early voting, was introduced in the 2019 legislative session but did not receive enough votes in the Senate to put the question to voters in 2020.
No Excuse Absentee- Excuses are required to vote early in Connecticut. The excuses are very restrictive.
RECOMMENDATION: HJ 161, which would create a constitutional amendment to remove the required excuses to vote absentee, was introduced in the 2019 legislative session but did not receive enough votes in the Senate to put the question to voters in 2020.
Mail-In Voting- Mail-in voting is only provided in the context of the restrictive absentee balloting provisions. In-person voting on Election Day remains the prominent form of election activity.
RECOMMENDATION: Expand mail-in voting in line with measures taken by California, Oregon, and Washington.
Felon Re-Enfranchisement- The right to vote is restored for returning citizens at the completion of their sentence and parole.
RECOMMENDATION: HB 7160, which would have allowed people on parole to register and vote, passed the House but did not pass the Senate.
Voter Bill of Rights- A voter bill of rights is provided.
Polling Hours- Polling places are open from 6 am to 8 pm on Election Day, providing 14 hours for voting. This timeframe is consistent with other leading states.
Wait Time Service Standard- Like other states, Connecticut does not have a wait time service standard on Election Day. With few other options for voters apart from Election Day, it is even more critical that Connecticut develop real standards to serve voters fairly.
RECOMMENDATION: Implement and monitor minimum waiting time standards for voters in the state and then ensure that cities and towns staff polling places appropriately.
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