A bill to restore the vote to thousands of Connecticut residents is getting a hearing Thursday in the General Assembly. The Government Administration and Elections Committee is hearing testimony on HB 5418. If passed the bill would give some 4,000 people who are in custody but have not been convicted of a crime access to ballots, and it would restore voting rights to another 3,000 who are on parole. According to Kennard Ray, chair of the Full Citizen Coalition to Unlock the Vote, the legislation would bring Connecticut’s voting rights laws into line with every other state in New England.
“Both Vermont and Maine do not restrict voting rights at any time, even for folks that are incarcerated,” Ray points out. “And Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island have all included folks that are on parole.”
Ten other states and Washington, D.C. also allow people who are on parole to vote.
Ray explains that, technically, people in Connecticut who have not been convicted of a crime but are held in pretrial detention do have the right to vote, but they need access to absentee ballots or other means to cast their votes.