Testimony on An Act Designating Election Day As A State Holiday Committee Bill 479

Government Administration and Elections

February 27, 2019

Submitted By: Stephen Wanczyk-Karp, LMSW

The National Association of Social Workers, CT Chapter, representing over 2500 members supports Bill 479: An Act Designating Election Day As A State Holiday.

Connecticut’s constitution and statute is restrictive in terms of when elections can be held and the rules around them. Unlike many other state’s we are currently unable to take advantage of early voting that offers voters ample opportunities to participate in an election, or no excuse absentee voting. Voters schedules, work responsibilities and family engagement can become a barrier to making it to the polling place on Election Day. Instead of making voting maximally convenient, Connecticut limits voting to one day. This disenfranchises a portion of voters who for various reasons are not able to vote on Election Day.

Given the limitations on what the State can do to maximize voting, Bill 479 offers a measure of relief to the problem. This bill would improve voting rates and make Election Day more successful in the following ways:

  • Having a state holiday will give far greater number of voters the day off so that they can get to the polls.
  • Polling places will have a larger pool of poll workers as the holiday will allow more individuals to sign up as a poll worker.
  • Schools and other public buildings that are used as voting places will not be open, allowing for greater safety, additional parking and no disruption in programs, activities and services that would typically be taking place.
  • Parents of pre-voter age children will be able to take their children with them to vote, modeling and instilling the importance of voting.
  • Individuals who want to participate in the electoral process of a campaign would have greater flexibility to become civically engaged.

Having Election Day, a state holiday will facilitate increased voting, can be accomplished easily, and will heighten the importance we as a state place on voting. We urge the Committee to support Bill 479.

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