CT House GOP blocks 2022 absentee vote referendum
The House Republican minority on Tuesday succeeded in delaying by at least two years the ability of Connecticut voters to decide whether the state’s Constitution should be amended to increase the discretion of the General Assembly over the use of postal votes.
Connecticut is a rarity among states: its postal voting rules are among the most restrictive in the United States, and they are enshrined in its constitution.
Tuesday’s question was a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow – not force – lawmakers to allow absentee voting without excuse. Experience elsewhere notwithstanding, Republicans said the change would invite large-scale fraud.
The measure passed 104-44, but by voting broadly as a bloc, the GOP ensured that the House was below the 75% supermajority needed to put the proposed constitutional amendment to a referendum in 2022, the next statewide election. Nine Republicans joined 95 Democrats in support.
The other route to a referendum is the simple majority adoption of an identical amendment by a successive legislature – lawmakers who will be elected in 2022 and take office in 2023. This would delay a referendum until 2024.
“Make no mistake, this will be decided by the voters at the polls in 2024. It is a shame that most Republicans have chosen to delay by two years the ability of voters to make their voices heard,” said the secretary of Denise Merrill State. said in an emailed statement.
The question now goes to the Senate.
Democrats said the measure concerned access to the ballot box, while Republicans saw the danger of fraud.
âWe don’t need to open the floodgates to electoral fraud,â said Representative David Labriola, R-Oxford.
Without proof, former President Donald J. Trump alleged widespread fraud of all kinds in 2020 to undermine the legitimacy of Joe Biden’s election as president. Without repeating Trump’s claims, Republicans say action is needed to restore voter confidence in the process.
“That faith is lacking now,” said Rep. Jason Perillo, R-Shelton.
Republicans proposed amendments that would have required photo ID to vote at the polls in Connecticut and signature verification on outer envelopes used to vote by absentee. All were rejected in online votes.
According to research from the National Conference of State Legislatures36 states have laws requiring or requiring some form of identification at the ballot box, but only six states have strict requirements to show photo ID before voting.
Speaking to reporters ahead of the vote, Parliamentary Minority Leader Vincent J. Candelora R-North Branford distanced his caucus from Trump by saying the fraud was real, although not widespread.
âThere is still evidence of fraud in the postal voting world. We have seen it. It is not very widespread, but it is certain that if you do not have adequate guarantees, it will encourage fraud. And that’s our concern, âCandelora said.
It is indisputable that fraud is real and most often occurs in postal voting, but not in polling stations. But election enforcement officials say it’s relatively rare.
One of the most egregious cases in Connecticut occurred in 2015. Officials say a Democratic Party official in Stamford submitted as many as 29 fake mail-in ballots in a case that both revealed weaknesses and system backups.
One of the voters whose name had been forged on a request turned up to vote. He was allowed to vote, but the mail ballot cast on his behalf was seized and returned to the state Election Enforcement Commission and, possibly, prosecutors.
The Connecticut Constitution empowers the General Assembly to authorize postal voting only in the event “of absence from the town or city of which they reside or because of illness, physical disability or because the principles of their religion forbids secular activity. â
The legislation interpreting this constitutional language is even more restrictive. House Speaker Matt Ritter, D-Hartford, said he expects the legislature to change these laws, allowing easier access to absentee ballots for commuters and guardians of people with disabilities .
Last week, the Senate voted on party principles to pass and send to the House legislation that would allow anyone concerned about the outsourcing of COVID-19 to vote by absent ballot this year, the same option offered during elections last year.