Democrats in the Connecticut General Assembly look like they’ll make early voting a signature issue this session. They’re introducing legislation seeking a referendum on an amendment to the state’s constitution.
If it passes, that amendment would let legislators craft the rules to allow people to vote before election day itself.
State Senator Mae Flexer said passing the referendum question is a key first step.
“We can’t have any conversation about early voting until we change the constitution," she told a news conference Tuesday. "We can’t decide whether its three days or 15 days or 20 days until the constitution is changed. And to do that we need bipartisan support. And frankly if we don’t get that bipartisan support, it’ll be 2026 until we can actually do something.”
A similar effort at a constitutional amendment failed at the ballot box in 2014 — its supporters say because the question itself was poorly worded and hard for voters to understand.
Secretary of the State Denise Merrill said she doesn’t believe there’s significant opposition to the issue.
“The only objection I’ve ever heard is cost and the truth is we’re going to have cost one way or the other — because we cannot continue to have long lines at the polls — that is really disenfranchising people,” said Merrill.
But Republican leader in the State Senate Len Fasano issued a statement saying his top priority is to eliminate fraud in the voting system, and he has concerns about any constitutional change.
"When people vote who should not be voting or who vote multiple times, the vote of every other person is diluted, and their constitutional right to an equal vote is therefore denied," said Fasano in a statement. "Before we can have a conversation about changes to our constitution – especially changes which voters already rejected – we need to talk about how to ensure any new system will be protected from fraud."
A review of the 2016 election found just four documented cases of voter fraud in the whole of the U.S. A report from the Brennan Center for Justice has concluded that an American is more likely to be struck by lightning than to impersonate another person at the polls.
Connecticut is one of only 11 states that don’t allow early voting.