Connecticut voters are eligible to cast absentee ballots during the coming Nov. 2 municipal elections as a result of legislative action which once again expanded voting options due to the pandemic, state and local officials advised Tuesday.

Although the state constitution contains specific language outlining what circumstances may be used as an excuse to access an absentee ballot, a record number were cast last year under a temporary policy designed to shield voters from exposure to the COVID-19 virus. This year, the legislature extended that policy, citing the ongoing pandemic. 

“We are still in a situation — an emergency [with] COVID and people feeling that they’re not able to go in person to the polls without jeopardizing their health,” Secretary of the State Denise Merrill said Tuesday outside the state Capitol building. “This is to make sure that every voter is able to vote in whatever way is possible for them.”

Local polling locations will be available for all voters looking to cast their ballots in person. 

Any voter intending to cast an absentee ballot this year should visit their town clerk’s office and apply for a ballot in-person, Merrill said. It is possible to apply by mail, but given the election will be held in two weeks it may be too late to make the request by mail in time to vote, she said. 

“It’s getting close enough to the election that I would strongly recommend anyone who wants an absentee ballot to go down and get an application at your town hall,” Merrill said. 

As was the case last year, voters wishing to turn in their completed ballots can do so at their town halls or use the official drop boxes installed in municipalities across the state.  

Residents have until Oct. 26 to register to vote ahead of the election, however Connecticut allows residents to register on Election Day as well. Aspiring voters can register online with a state-issued driver’s licence, at a Department of Motor Vehicles branch or at local town halls. 

During the press conference, Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said he hoped voters would turn out for the local elections with as much enthusiasm as they had for last year’s presidential election. Although high-profile federal races are important, Bronin said local contests can have more impact on communities. 

“In so many ways your daily life is most directly affected by who represents you in the mayor’s office or the first selectman’s office or the board of education or the town council or the planning and zoning board or any number of other local elected positions,” Bronin said. “So please, recognize how much is at stake, recognize how much your voice matters and get out and vote.”