Early voting lawn sign.
Early voting lawn sign in Connecticut. Credit: Thomas Breen photo / New Haven Independent

They rejected the idea in 2014, but Connecticut voters are ready to give the legislature the ability to create some form of early voting as soon as 2024. 

Nearly 60% of voters who turned out Tuesday want the option to be able to vote early. How that will happen will still need to be defined by the General Assembly. 

Voters at the polls Tuesday were surprised that Connecticut didn’t already have early voting like most other states. 

Yolande Bekley said she voted to allow early voting, which she said could benefit people whose jobs make it difficult to get to the polls in the middle of a work week.

“Today I am lucky. I have time to get here but people have to work,” she said. “For me yesterday or Saturday would have been [more convenient].”

In New Haven, Steve Winter stood at the polls and made the pitch for early voting. 

He said allowing Connecticut residents to cast their ballots early, he said, without requiring them to first apply and cite one of the limited number of state-permitted reasons to vote absentee will be a boon for the elderly, the disabled, parents worried about childcare, workers worried about getting to their jobs late, and the weather-wary worried about finding a way to the polls on a rainy day.

John Demitrus, who was holding a sign for the Republican ticket in West Hartford, said he doesn’t understand the “anti-early voting sentiment.”

He said he understands the staffing issues that might be required for a few more days of early voting, but “they should make this as pain-free as possible.”

The vote was applauded by groups like Common Cause and the Connecticut ACLU who formed a PAC to raise awareness of the ballot question.

“Voter approval of the early voting amendment is a huge win for Connecticut. Voting should never be an ordeal for any citizen; on November 8 Connecticut made it much easier for citizens to exercise their most fundamental democratic right,” Diana Evans, Common Cause in Connecticut Advisory Board member, said. 

But the groups acknowledged the work is not done. 

“Connecticut voters have done our part for democracy and racial justice, and now the legislature must do the same,” David McGuire, ACLU Rise PAC chair, said. “Legislators must pass a law this session that not only allows early voting, but does so in the most expansive way possible, including by enabling people to vote on nights and weekends. Expansive early voting is clearly the will of the people, and we will be advocating for legislators to listen.”

However, before the General Assembly gets a chance to weigh in on the issue, the early voting question will have to pass a court challenge that was filed Tuesday by Noemi Soto. 

In a seven-page complaint Soto said the question wasn’t properly before voters on the ballot Tuesday. 

She said the 2019 amendment and the 2021 amendment were different when they needed to be the same to get the question on the ballot this year for voters. 

The lawsuit claims the 2021 resolution went further than the 2019 amendment. Soto, who filed the complaint pro se, concluded “gross negligence on the parties directly responsible for drafting, approval and legal interpretation of the contingent Constitutional and statutory authority used to process HJ-50.” 

Judge Cesar Noble held a brief hearing Tuesday afternoon and set a status conference in the case for Nov. 16.