To the Editor:
On April 7, dozens of voters in Wisconsin contracted COVID-19 when they voted in-person. On November 3, CT residents may risk that outcome.
Generally, Connecticut strictly regulates who can vote by absentee ballot, though Governor Lamont’s May executive order allows all voters to vote absentee for the August primary. The legislature will soon convene for a session to decide if this provision should apply for November, which it should.
During this session, the words “such elector’s or person’s” preceding “illness” must be removed. Safeguards for communities of color, facing higher rates of COVID-19 related infections and death, should be implemented. Black voters’ absentee ballots are rejected more frequently than white voters; this can be combated by extending registration periods and providing accessible drop boxes.
Unfortunately, this has turned into a partisan issue, despite absentee voting not being advantageous to one party. In a recent California election, Republicans captured a seat previously held by Democrats by ensuring absentee ballot access. Another frequent counterclaim is voter fraud. Studies concluded that fraudulent instances, though serious and warranting action, are few and far between. During a period when 12 million votes were cast in CT, News21 found just 196 cases of alleged fraud; barcodes and signature verification ensure integrity.
Voting is a right granted with citizenship – we don’t have to re-qualify for it. This bill’s public hearing saw overwhelming support and reiterations that our democracy is stronger with more participation. I am not 18, but for my registered neighbors, I await the decisions of my legislators.