Despite objections from at least four committee members, the Government Administration and Elections Committee will hear testimony on a bill that would remove the voting rights of anyone convicted of insurrection-related felonies.
The Government Administration and Elections Committee voted 12-4 to allow the bill that would strip voting rights away from certain people at its meeting Monday.
“This particular bill makes someone permanently forfeit their voting rights,” Rep. Gail Mastrofrancesco, R-Wolcott, said. “Which I feel is very disturbing.”
Mastrofrancesco said the committee in general has tried over the years to make it easier for people to vote, not harder.
She said the bill, introduced by Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff, was politically motivated.
“What about the other riots that took place in 2020, are they included in this?” Mastrofrancesco said.
Sen. Rob Sampson, R-Wolcott, said he also believes the bill was raised as a political maneuver.
“I don’t believe this belongs in our committee. I really don’t,” Sampson said.
Mastrofrancesco added: “I find it offensive to the voters.”
Sampson said it’s ironic that the bill is on the same agenda as one that would restore the voting rights of individuals on parole, who are still serving time or have outstanding fines.
In a previous interview, Duff has admitted it’s related to the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
“I think it’s important for us to send the message that anybody who’s convicted of some of the most important crimes in our country — they do not have the ability to be a part of our government,” Duff has said. “These are people who tried to take down our government, tried to basically put in a dictator. They are election deniers. They use fake electors and we have to send a very strong message about that.”
Duff said the legislation was an attempt to keep people guilty of sedition far away from the levers of power in government.
The bill is a new concept for the Connecticut legislature and one which Duff said he did not see as running counter to recent efforts by members of his party to remove barriers to restoring the electoral rights of formerly incarcerated people.