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State Senator

Norm Needleman

Representing Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook

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Senator Needleman, Secretary of the State Merrill, Representatives Haines and Orange Hold Colchester Forum on Early Voting

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Secretary of the State Denise Merrill speaks in Colchester Monday as State Senator Norm Needleman and State Representatives Linda Orange and Irene Haines look on.

COLCHESTER, CT – On Monday, State Senator Norm Needleman (D-Colchester), Secretary of the State Denise Merrill and State Representatives Irene Haines (R-Colchester) and Linda Orange (D-Colchester) joined together at Colchester’s William Johnston Middle School to hold a forum on early voting. Merrill has proposed a resolution that would amend the state Constitution to expand access to early voting and discussed the plan in detail.

Under Merrill’s proposal, Connecticut would add two new points of access for voters across the state. If passed, it would require at least three days of early voting prior to Election Day itself and allow increased access to absentee ballots for members of the public. Currently, Connecticut is one of just 11 states that does not allow early voting, and it is one of 16 that doesn’t allow access to absentee ballots without requiring the voter to answer questions. Voters must be active military members, be unable to visit a voting station due to illness, disability or religious reasons, be out of town for all voting hours on Election Day or be election employees assigned to a location other than their own to currently gain access to absentee ballots in Connecticut.

The state constitution includes language prohibiting early voting, requiring an amendment that would change that language. If the Government Administration and Elections Committee passes Merrill’s resolution with at least a three-quarters vote of support, it would become a ballot question on the 2020 ballot; she said if it does not pass with a large majority, it would likely land on the 2022 ballot or later. The ballot question would read “Shall the Constitution of the State be amended to provide a minimum of three days of early voting and to allow all voters to vote by absentee ballot?”

Expanding early voting access, according to Merrill, would provide benefits to the public including relieving long lines at polling places, alleviating those with long commutes, accommodating sick or elderly voters and allowing for more people to access the ballot on their own terms and their own schedules.

“We absolutely need to do something, whether it’s opening up early voting or absentee voting, because the more people who vote, the better our democracy is,” said Sen. Needleman. “If people can vote on the weekend, or don’t have to take time off work, it makes voting more accessible. I support the largest number of people voting possible in the most efficient way.”

“Connecticut voters want the option of voting before Election Day, like the voters in 39 other states already have,” said Merrill. “I’m glad to have the support of Senator Needleman and Representative Orange in this effort to ensure that every eligible Connecticut citizen can easily register, and every registered voter can conveniently vote.”

“Connecticut residents live busy, hectic and sometimes unpredictable lives, and it is essential that everyone who can vote is able to exercise that right. The early voting bill will grant flexibility to working families who may not be able to make it to the polls and will expand participation in this fundamental right,” said State Representative Linda Orange, D-Colchester. “We must work to repeal barriers to voting to ensure that all voters’ interests are fairly represented.”

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