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House Adopts Amendment to Expand Absentee Voting

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A woman votes in Florida (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)

A woman votes in Florida (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)

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By STEPHEN KALIN
Associated Press

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ A resolution to place a question on the 2014 ballot giving voters the option to expand absentee voting by amending the state constitution was adopted by the state House on Wednesday.

If approved by voters, the ballot item would make absentee voting available to all voters, instead of limiting it to those who are out of town, sick, disabled or prevented by religious beliefs from voting on Election Day. It would also enable future sessions of the General Assembly to enact early voting initiatives, such as voting in person prior to Election Day and mail-in voting.

The House approved the resolution 90-to-49. If the Senate also passes it later in the session, it will appear on the ballot in November 2014.
Rep. Ed Jutila, D-East Lyme, co-chair of the Government Administration and Elections Committee, suggested that Connecticut should join the 32 other states in the nation that have already enacted some form of early voting.

“We need to consider the options that reflect today’s busy, hectic and sometimes unpredictable lifestyles,” he said.

Jutila said the resolution does not change the state’s electoral laws, but rather allows voters to decide whether they want the legislature to consider making changes.

Republican lawmakers objected to the wording of the question that would appear on the ballot in 2014, which does not explicitly mention early voting.

“The ballot question should be clear to let the voters know that when they are voting on this question it is beyond absentee ballots as we know it,” said Rep. Tony Hwang, R-Fairfield.

Hwang also raised concerns about what he called “the potential unfunded mandate” of early voting initiatives that the constitutional amendment would allow the legislature to consider.

The resolution adopted Wednesday passed the House last year, but did not gain the required three-quarters of support to appear on the 2012 ballot. Because the same proposal is being considered again this year, only a simple majority in both chambers is required for approval.

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