Secretary of State Denise Merrill said on Thursday that she hopes Connecticut lawmakers will take steps to permanently expand access to absentee ballots and allow early voting this year, measures that she believes have strong voter support.
The Democrat said she would also like the General Assembly to pass into law some of the temporary election-related security measures taken last year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, including capturing mailboxes on absentee ballots in Connecticut.
“Very popular with the public. Very useful for the town clerks when processing ballots. So that's a big priority, & # 39; said Merrill.
The Connecticut Constitution currently prohibits early voting and expanded eligibility for absentee ballots. Lawmakers agreed last year to allow COVID-19 temporarily as a valid reason to vote in absentia and there is interest in extending that provision to a handful of special and municipal elections this year.
However, a constitutional amendment is needed to permanently expand who can vote in absentia. A proposal is under discussion this session and requires 75% of the House and Senate to place the question on the vote for 2022 for voters. If it passes every chamber by a simple majority, it could show up on the 2023 or 2024 ballot.
Meanwhile, another proposed change to allow early voting in 2019 has been adopted by simple majority by the General Assembly. It must now be re-passed in order to put the question to voters about the 2022 vote.
A poll released Thursday by Secure Democracy, an impartial election advocacy group, found strong bipartisan support among Connecticut voters for both measures.
Sen. Rob Sampson, R-Wolcott, the highest-ranking Republican senator in government administration and the legislature's electoral committee, has made COVID-19 a reason to vote absent. However, he criticized Merrill for sending requests for absentee ballots during the pandemic to every person on the voter roll, which he says is inaccurate and unreliable.
Also on Thursday, Merrill said she plans to seek additional funding so that her office can help combat election misinformation.
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