HARTFORD, CT — The House took the first step Tuesday toward allowing the electorate to decide whether to amend the Connecticut constitution to allow for early voting.
The resolution passed 78-70 with only two Republicans joining Democrats in voting in favor of it. However, it wasn’t the three-fourths necessary to get it on the ballot in 2018. That means if the Senate also approves the resolution it could be raised again by the 2019 General Assembly for a vote. If a simple majority of each chamber approved it then, it would appear on the 2020 ballot.
Rep. JP Sredzinski, R-Monroe, said he thinks people will enjoy the convenience of early voting, but he doesn’t believe everyone has thought about how it’s going to be applied.
“My concern is for the town clerks who have opposed this bill,” Sredzinski said.
However, the bill actually would not have allowed for early voting. It would have asked voters whether they want to change the constitution to allow for it.
Rep. Dan Fox, D-Stamford, said the resolution itself doesn’t change election law.
If the electorate approves the constitutional change at the polls then it will be sent back to the General Assembly to determine what early voting in Connecticut looks like.
“The changes to election laws will be made by this body at some point down the road if this resolution passes,” Fox said.
Rep. Matt Lesser, D-Middletown, said there are 37 states and the District of Columbia that already allow for early voting.
In the last election “something like 40 percent of Americans used early voting,” Lesser said. “And it is not a partisan issue.”
He said this resolution doesn’t “attack our fundamental right to vote … and it doesn’t impose any new mandates on our municipalities.”
Secretary of the State Denise Merrill said Tuesday’s vote brings Connecticut one step closer to joining the majority of other states in offering its citizens an opportunity to vote before Election Day.
“Considering that more than one-third of American voters cast their ballots last November using early voting methods, I strongly believe that Connecticut citizens have waited long enough to be able to vote in a way that accommodates their busy, mobile lives,” Merrill said.