Early voting takes important next step
The issue: Connecticut doesn’t make voting easy. It’s one of only 12 states that doesn’t allow early voting at the polls and in fact it’s prohibited by the state constitution. Early voting has become an option for increasing numbers of people nationwide, and last year some 40 million Americans in 38 states and the District of Columbia cast their votes in advance of Election Day.
Changing the state constitution is not as easy as passing a law, as it requires a three-fourths supermajority in both chambers of the state Legislature as well as approval in a statewide referendum. But it’s also hardly unprecedented, as voters just last year approved a constitutional change enabling the creation of a “lockbox” for transportation-related funding.
In 2014, early voting made it as far as the statewide ballot but was defeated in part because, organizers said, the language in the bill was unclear.
What we said: “By no means does this state make voting as easy as it could be. Expanding the franchise should be a priority for the coming legislative session.
“That means considering seriously options like
early voting; so-called ‘no-excuse absentee ballots,’ allowing any registered voter to request an absentee ballot without requiring a reason; vote-by mail; and automatic voter registration. Connecticut has taken steps in the direction of making voting easier, but there is plenty of work to be done.
“Voting, after all, is as fundamental a right as exists in this nation. All opportunities to expand the pool of voters should be seriously considered so everyone is represented.”
Editorial, Dec. 26, 2018 What happened: The proposal to bring early voting to Connecticut received a supermajority vote of 125-24 in the Connecticut House of Representatives this week. That exceeds the 75-percent supermajority threshold of 114 votes necessary for a constitutional amendment, and included 35 of the 59 Republicans in attendance.
In addition to clearing the way to early voting, the proposed change would widen the use of absentee ballots, which is another change that has taken hold across the nation. Currently, voters need to prove they cannot cast in-person ballots on Election Day either because they are physically unable or would be out of town. Opening the use of absentee ballots means more people would be able to vote, widening state turnout that reached about 66 percent last year.
What’s next: The proposal now heads to the state Senate. If it can clear the 75-percent threshold in that chamber, the question would be put on the 2020 ballot for ratification by voters. If the Senate does not clear that bar, the soonest that early voting could go on the state ballot would be 2022.
The Senate needs to follow the House’s lead. There’s no reason Connecticut should be behind the times on voting rights, and the state should do whatever it can to bring more people into the process. The state must also ensure proper safeguards are in place, but there is simply no reason to lag behind the rest of the nation in this vital area.
There’s no reason Connecticut should be behind the times on voting rights, and the state should do whatever it can to bring more people into the process.