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CT hasn't allowed early voting, but Tuesday's election paves the way to start changing that

Absentee ballots
Ryan Caron King
/
Connecticut Public
Absentee ballots from New Haven’s 38 voting districts sit in piles before being opened and fed into tabulator machines by poll workers on Nov. 8, 2022.

Connecticut voters on Tuesday approved a ballot measure that gives the General Assembly the go-ahead to consider legislation that would create an in-person early voting system.

The Associated Press reported that the ballot measure passed at around 2 a.m. Wednesday.

Currently, the state constitution has several provisions that dictate the time, place and manner of elections, essentially requiring voters to cast their ballots at their local polling place on Election Day unless they qualify for an absentee ballot.

With the measure approved, the legislature will be authorized to draft legislation that would implement an early voting system. It could be in place as early as 2024.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Connecticut is one of only a handful of states that does not offer early in-person voting. In other states, early voting laws let ballots be cast anywhere from a few days to a few weeks before an election at designated polling spots. Supporters of early voting say it gives people more flexibility to vote.

A similar ballot measure failed in 2014. But supporters of the constitutional amendment say people now have a better understanding of the topic and that the ballot question is written in plain English.

“This time around, the language is a little more simple, and people know what it is,” said Laura Smits, president of the Connecticut League of Women Voters. “They’re coming in knowing what it is as opposed to the last time around when people were like ‘What? What is this paragraph of legalese I got to wade through?’”

Former Democratic Secretary of the State Denise Merrill told Connecticut Public Radio that early voting would “enable many more people to be able to vote more conveniently.”

The measure also potentially faces a legal challenge. On Tuesday, a judge heard arguments that the proposed constitutional amendment is unlawful. The next court date for the case is set for next week.

This story contains information from the Associated Press. Connecticut Public Radio's Walter Smith Randolph contributed to this report.

Patrick Skahill is a reporter and digital editor at Connecticut Public. Prior to becoming a reporter, he was the founding producer of Connecticut Public Radio's The Colin McEnroe Show, which began in 2009. Patrick's reporting has appeared on NPR's Morning Edition, Here & Now, and All Things Considered. He has also reported for the Marketplace Morning Report. He can be reached by phone at 860-275-7297 or by email: pskahill@ctpublic.org.