A push to bring early voting to Connecticut — and send long lines at many polling locations the way of mechanical voting machines — is regaining momentum. State Rep. William Tong, D-Stamford, this week introduced a bill, the first of the upcoming legislative session, to amend the state constitution to allow for early voting. A similar measure was defeated by voters in 2014 during a public referendum, despite support from Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and the state’s top election official, Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, who are both Democrats. Tong said it’s high time that Connecticut join 37 other states that allow anyone to cast their ballots before the election, not just those who meet the guidelines for obtaining an absentee ballot. The initiative comes after a record 1.7 million ballots were cast statewide in the November election, with long lines observed in many municipalities such as Bridgeport, Stamford, Fairfield, Milford, Norwalk and Danbury.
“For working people, that’s unacceptable,” Tong said. “I noticed on Election Day in some of my quieter districts that there were long lines by 6 a.m….and people were being turned away. That just struck me as not being right at all. If somebody gets up at 5 in the morning and races to vote, and they’re there by 6 or 6:15 to vote, they should get to do so.”
Tong’s proposal, which was sent to the Legislative Commissioners’ Office to be drafted, will not set a timetable or process for when the first ballots could be cast. He is leaving that up to policymakers, who he said analyze and model legislation after other states with early voting.
Malloy spokeswoman Kelly Donnelly reaffirmed the governor’s support Tuesday for early voting. “States across the nation offer some form of early voting and Connecticut should join their ranks,” Donnelly said. “We must continue to work to modernize our election rules, remove barriers to the ballot box, and increase voter participation.”