Call for Expanded Absentee VotingMay 7, 2020
I want to protect your essential right to vote. That's why State Rep. Christine Palm and I have written to the General Assembly's leadership seeking to safeguard the voting process in light of the current pandemic crisis. Please read our press release below:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – MAY 7, 2020
Palm and Blumenthal Urge General Assembly Leadership to Call a Vote on Expanding Absentee Ballot Provisions to Safeguard Voting Rights
HARTFORD – State Rep. Christine Palm (D-36) and State Rep. Matt Blumenthal (D-147) are leading an effort in the House of Representatives to urge General Assembly leadership to expand absentee ballot provisions. The two freshmen legislators say a statutory change is needed to ensure that every Connecticut resident can vote “safely, confidently and legally” in both the upcoming primary and the November general election.
Blumenthal, a lawyer who represents Stamford and Darien, and Palm, an educator who represents Chester, Deep River, Essex and Haddam, crafted a letter sent this week to all 151 members of the House, of both parties, asking them to sign on. In it, the authors call upon both House and Senate leaders to convene a special session in order to vote on amending state statute language that currently allows an elector to vote absentee only if unable to appear at the polls because of “his or her illness.” The authors believe the statute should be broadened to bring it more in line with the intent of the Connecticut Constitution, which allows absentee voting “because of illness.”
Palm and Blumenthal say a reasonable fear of contracting or spreading Covid-19, and the lack of proven immunity to it, are legitimate reasons for voters to want to avoid physical polling locations on Election Day.
“Given the uncertain trajectory of the pandemic, nothing is more important right now than finding a way to give everyone the option of voting absentee,” said Palm. “The State Statute governing voting procedures was written long before this epidemic and needs to be updated to reflect our current reality. It’s our duty to find a way to safeguard both the citizenry’s health and their right to exercise their civic obligation.”
Blumenthal said, “the right to vote is one of the most sacred of American rights, enshrined in both our federal and state constitutions.” He believes keeping the statute as written would, unacceptably, cause “disenfranchisement for those forced to choose between their health — and the health of those they love — and their vote.” And invoking the words of the Connecticut Supreme Court, Blumenthal said, “where there is disenfranchisement, a grievous wrong is done to the citizen.”
The General Assembly must, by law, convene to vote on a “Deficiency Bill,” (a technical budgetary implementation) and the authors feel a vote on state statute should be added to the special session agenda “later this summer or as soon as it is safe to convene.”
Several dozen House colleagues signed on within hours of the letter’s arrival in their in-boxes.
The letter concludes: “We are hearing loud and clear the express wishes of our constituents on this matter: that the sanctity of the right to vote, and our democracy, must be protected. We agree, and believe our obligation is to do all we can to comply.”
Read the entire letter HERE.