Despite near unanimous Republican opposition in Connecticut, Democrats in the state Senate on Thursday approved a measure that will allow residents to vote in 2024 on whether they want to allow for “no excuses” absentee voting in Connecticut – thereby removing the state’s five current restrictions for voting absentee.
The state Senate voted nearly along party lines 27-9 to approve House Joint Resolution 58, “RESOLUTION PROPOSING A STATE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT TO ALLOW NO-EXCUSE ABSENTEE VOTING.” The measure will be considered by Connecticut voters at the polls in November 2024 upon a second passage by the legislature in 2023.
State Senator Alex Kasser (D-Greenwich) joined her Democratic Senate colleagues in approving the ballot measure.
“Democracy is fragile and depends on the participation of its citizens,” Sen. Kasser said. “Connecticut has some of the most restrictive voting laws in the country, which makes it harder for people to participate. With the passage of this resolution, we begin a three-step, three-year process to amend our state Constitution and, if voters pass a referendum in 2024, we could have no-excuse absentee voting later that year. Though the process seems painfully slow, the effort is absolutely worthwhile. Increased participation in elections will ensure a healthy democracy for the next generation.”
The resolution proposes a constitutional amendment to remove Connecticut’s current constitutional restrictions on absentee voting. Connecticut currently only allows absentee voting in five very particular circumstances:
1. you’re out of town all day on Election Day
2. you’re sick or have a physical disability and cannot make it in-person to the polls
3. your religion forbids you from any secular activity on Election Day
4. you’re on active duty in the Armed Forces; or
5. you’re an election official whose duties will keep you from voting on Election Day.
In Connecticut 73% of all voters support expanding access to absentee ballots to all voters without requiring an excuse, including 90% of Democrats, 75% of unaffiliated voters and almost half of all Republicans.
In November 2020, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and after legislative Democrats allowed for people to vote from home to avoid contracting COVID-19, more than a third of all the ballots cast in Connecticut were cast by absentee: 650,000 out of 1.8 million ballots cast.
As of 2020, 34 other U.S. states had no-excuses absentee voting laws on their books: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
Delaware and New Hampshire are also considering legislation this year to allow for no-excuse absentee voting.