Secretary of the State Denise Merrill on Tuesday praised the Connecticut State House of Representatives passage of House Bill No. 5599 “An Act Concerning Provisional Ballots for State and Municipal Offices” that would allow voters to use provisional ballots for state and municipal elections instead of only federal elections, as current statutes provide. The House vote today was 105-37 in favor of sending the bill to the State Senate. Provisional ballots are cast by voters who appear at their polling place on Election Day and claim they are indeed registered to vote, but their names do not appear on the voter list. Provisional ballots are counted in the election only if the voter is later verified as being legitimately registered in that town by the local Registrar of Voters. Currently, provisional ballots can only be used to vote for federal candidates for office. Those voters whose registration status is uncertain at their polling place on Election Day are currently permitted to vote by challenge ballot for candidates for municipal and state candidates.
Articles about voting issues in Connecticut.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy will sign legislation to give Connecticut voters the chance to expand the use of absentee ballots. The bill, which passed the Senate late Wednesday and heads to his desk, will create a ballot question for next year’s statewide election, asking voters whether they want to change the state Constitution and allow the General Assembly to expand early voting opportunities. One of the measures planned by lawmakers is so-called no-excuse absentee ballots. Illness, age and out-of-town business are the main reasons for issuing absentee ballots, in provisions that date back 80 years.
Despite constitutional concerns, lawmakers advanced a bill Monday that establishes a pilot program for municipalities to test early voting in this year’s town elections. Over the past few years, the legislature has jumped through considerable hoops in an effort to broaden its authority over the state’s voting system. That’s because the state constitution is unusually specific when it comes to the administration of statewide and federal elections. For the second consecutive year, lawmakers are mulling a constitutional amendment that could give them more leeway to enact policies concerning no-excuse absentee ballots and early voting.
The state House of Representatives has passed a joint resolution calling for a constitutional amendment to remove the requirement that people vote in person on Election Day. The resolution passed by a 90-49 vote, with 12 members absent. It goes next to the Senate and then to a public vote in the 2014 election. Currently, the state constitution exempts people from voting in person if they are out of town on Election Day, are sick, have a physical disability or hold religious tenets that prohibit voting on Election Day. The only alternative to voting in person is by absentee ballot.
Connecticut lawmakers are considering allowing early voting during state elections and eliminating cross endorsements by minor parties. “I strongly support early voting,” said Secretary of State Denise Merrill on Monday.”We need to modernize our voting practices. If a voter has made up their mind, why wait till [Election Day]? More than 30 other states have enacted early voting with great success.” Through testimony and remarks submitted Monday to the government administration and elections committee, early voting garnered considerable support, while eliminating cross endorsements drew sizable opposition.
In 2012, Sgt. Kevin Townley’s vote didn’t count. He mailed it from the United Arab Emirates, but it never got to hometown of Trumbull to be counted. Townley said that while some people would rather get medals, “I’d just like my vote to be counted.” Townley, who serves in the Connecticut National Guard, is not alone. The Connecticut Secretary of the State’s office found that 40 percent of the absentee ballots transmitted to members of the military overseas were never received and never counted. That’s why Sen. Gayle Slossberg, D-Milford, and Rep Russ Morin, D-Wethersfield, are proposing legislation that would allow overseas military men and women return their ballots by fax or email. Currently, military men and women serving overseas can receive their ballot by fax or email, but they have to return it through the postal service. … However, there is opposition to the measure. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy vetoed a bill last year which included the same provision.
Connecticut’s top election official is tossing around the concept of early voting and expanded access to absentee ballots, putting the Land of Steady Habits more in line with the vast majority of states. Secretary of the State Denise Merrill met Wednesday with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, a fellow Democrat, to gauge his support for a constitutional amendment that could open the door to voting alternatives.
The registrars of voters spoke to the board of directors Tuesday night about the many and unprecedented problems on Election Day, including long lines, voter confusion and a shortage of electronic ballots. In preparing for the election, the registrars said they looked at previous voter turnout in presidential elections and listened to political commentators who said President Barack Obama’s supporters were not as keen to cast ballots as they were in 2008. So considering that turnout in Manchester going back to 1996 had been 76 percent to 78 percent, Democratic Registrar Francis Maffe Jr. and Republican Registrar Tim Becker ordered enough ballots for an 82 percent turnout.
Registrars and moderators for the Oct. 26 special election for treasurer and the Nov. 6 general election tested the town’s four voting machines Friday afternoon at Samuel Staples Elementary School. Sample ballots marked for individual candidates were fed into the machines, which counted the ballots and tabulated vote totals and then were checked for accuracy. “We prepare test ballots and feed them all in to make sure the machines are accurately reading votes, there are different levels of security,” said Ron Kowalski, the Democratic registrar.
Last week, the Centralized Voter Registration system — a computer program that contains the names, addresses and party affiliation of all registered voters in the state — failed a stress test. Another test was conducted on Sunday and preliminary reports from the Secretary of the State’s office indicated that things went well. But the real test will come on Thursday when 100 registrars throughout the state will try to log onto the system at the same time and print out their voter lists or do other pre-election tasks. Mark Raymond, the state’s chief information officer, said last week that they were continuing to “fine tune” the system and believe that they would be able to ensure that the database is accessible in the lead-up to the Nov. 6 election. The deadline to register by mail is Oct. 23, but you can register in person until Oct. 30.