Connecticut voters appear to have rejected a proposed amendment to the state Constitution that would have eased restrictions on absentee voting. With 90 percent of precincts reporting Wednesday afternoon, 441,469 — or 53 percent — voted “no” on the ballot question, outnumbering the 395,309 — or 47 percent — who voted “yes.” Final figures were not available as of late Wednesday afternoon. Had it passed, the amendment would have given the legislature the authority to pass laws that would allow “no excuse” absentee voting, or allowing polls to be open on the Saturday before elections. In the weeks leading up to Election Day, advocates said changing the Constitution could increase voter turnout by allowing people to vote early and make voting more accessible. Opponents feared the change would lead to voter fraud and endanger the state’s election process. With the amendment’s defeat, current restrictions will stand: absentee voting is allowed only when a voter is sick on Election Day, outside the district, serving in the military, or has a religious obligation that keeps him or her from the polls.
Rep. David Labriola, R-Oxford, was among those who opposed the measure and said Wednesday he was glad voters defeated it. “Tinkering with the Constitution is dangerous business and the proposal would have opened the door to a variety of voting schemes, many of which could have led to fraud and even outright stealing of elections,” he said.
The amendment left too many unanswered questions about how absentee voting would occur, he said. It gave lawmakers the authority to pass laws making it easier to absentee vote, but it did not specify how the voting would take place, whether online or by other means, he said.
Voters typically are hesitant to alter the state constitution, Labriola said, “particularly when it’s not delineated what exactly would be the new system. The integrity of our election system goes to the very heart of our democracy.” The ballot question was worded this way: “Shall the Constitution of the State be amended to remove restrictions concerning absentee ballots and to permit a person to vote without appearing at a polling place on the day of an election?”