Check another perennial issue off the list. The Senate gave final passage Saturday to a bill that would allow voters to register and vote on the same day.
The bill passed the Senate 19-16 after opponents alleged the measure would lead to fraud and add to the chaos at the polls on Election day.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said he would sign the measure and make Connecticut the 11th state to allow for what is called Election Day Registration.
“Despite the pervasive climate across the U.S. to restrict voting rights, Connecticut has moved in the opposite direction—one that ensures the integrity of our electoral process and fair, accessible elections,“ Malloy said in a press release. “People are the key to our democracy, and this legislation improves participation in the most fundamental way —the ballot box.”
Sen. Gayle Slossberg, D-Milford, said it will increase voter participation in a state where only one out of three eligible voters is not registered. She dismissed the allegations of fraud.
“I’m disappointed quite frankly this falls along party lines in terms of our discussion,” Slossberg said.
Sen. Andrew Roraback, R-Goshen, said the registrars recognize there’s nothing more important than getting people registered to vote. He said it is easy, but when you make it too easy there is a fear that making it too easy invites fraud.
He said his registrars have encouraged him to vote against the bill because they’re not confident the tools are in place to allow this policy to be implemented and withstand the scrutiny that should be applied.
“Election day can be a chaotic day,” Roraback said. “We don’t have to look too far back to be reminded just how chaotic it can be.”
Roraback was referring to the balloting debacle in Bridgeport during the 2010 election, which delayed the naming of Malloy as governor.
But the issue in Bridgeport wasn’t related to fraud. It was the lack of ballots that caused issues at polling places.
Slossberg maintained that the names of voters will be able to be checked against a statewide voter database and they will be asked to swear that the information they provided is truthful.
But opponents said voter participation remains low, not because people can’t find the time to register, but because they’re not interested in politics.
“People aren‘t coming out to vote because they can‘t make this seven day window. I think they‘re not coming out to vote because we‘re not giving them a reason. I think we‘re the problem.” Sen. Jason Welch, R-Bristol, said. “We’re either too boring or we’ve broken too many promises.”
Secretary of the State Denise Merrill applauded the move.
“This will make the right to vote much easier to exercise for the eligible voters of Connecticut and lead to increased voter participation,“ Merrill said. “We have the technology to allow eligible voters to register online from any computer or mobile device, and we have the security in place to allow those late deciding, busy and mobile voters to register and cast ballots on Election Day.”