Denise Merrill, Secretary of the State, joins Dunaway to discuss the advantages of early voting in the State of Connecticut. It’s an issue she has been promoting for many years and a common occurrence in most other States.
According to Merrill, around 45 States allow for “some form of early voting,” leaving Connecticut as one of the few who don’t.
Early voting was on the ballot, “but many didn’t notice it, or were confused by it,” says Merrill, explaining, “It sounded like it was taking a right away from the people, so it didn’t pass.”
The high visibility of the last election brought attention to early voting via social media and on TV. Hundreds of people were then calling the Secretary of State asking, “why don’t we do this?”
There are two avenues to walk toward early voting in Connecticut. “My favorite idea,” says Merrill, “is voting the weekend before, so people who can’t get out of work have an opportunity.”
The second idea is allowing an absentee ballot sans an excuse. As it stands now, it’s consider a violation to obtain an absentee ballot if you’re not actually going to be out of town. Merrill makes the point, “we don’t want to make liars out of people.”
Dunaway brings up two important issues. First, where would early voting occur? And second, even though many people view early voting as a threat to turn red states blue, he points out, “if you see who has early voting, it’s not had an appreciable effect.”
“I think it benefits everybody,” agrees Merrill. “If you think of voters as customers, it’s giving more opportunity for them to cast their votes. For the states that do it, the voters love it. The ones who have problems with parties are the ones busy trying to figure out who already voted.”
As far as where early voting would occur, Connecticut would follow what other States are doing, and open one site, such as the town hall or library.
Duanway brings up the social aspect to voting, in that it gives people an opportunity to gather for one cause, and it’s a way to see people you haven’t seen in a long time. “That’s something I think I would miss,” he says.
“Under my idea, a couple of days of early voting means people who wouldn’t bother otherwise,” says Merrill.
Merrill also points out the legitimate worry people have about waiting in long lines. During the last election, people were standing in lines in New Haven for up to three hours. “A lot of them gave up because they had to go to work…I think we owe this to the voters…people don’t always have two hours to stand in line.”
Dunaway brings up the fact that John Larson is also behind this idea, as well as supporting the no-fault absentee ballot.
What needs to occur to put this in play, is to change two sections of the State Constitution. It has to pass both legislative chambers by “quite a high number,” and then it goes to a ballot where the people will get a chance to vote.
If all goes as Merrill and others hope, the people of Connecticut can wave good-bye to the long lines and instead follow suit of the other States, and also post selfies on social media exclaiming, “happy early voting!”