Testimony on HJ 59: Resolution Approving An Amendment To The State Constitution To Allow For Early Voting

Government Administration and Elections

February 22, 2021

Submitted By: Stephen Wanczyk-Karp, LMSW

The National Association of Social Workers, CT Chapter, representing over 2300 members supports HJ 59 to begin the steps toward amending the State Constitution to allow for early voting.

Connecticut’s constitution and statutes are too restrictive in terms of when elections can be held and the rules around them. Unlike 43 other states and the District of Columbia we are currently unable to take advantage of early voting that offers voters ample opportunities to participate in an election. Voters schedules, illness on election day, work responsibilities and family engagements, can become a barrier to making it to the polling place on Election Day. Instead of making voting maximally convenient, Connecticut’s one day only to vote makes it unnecessarily inconvenient to vote. This disenfranchises a portion of voters who for various reasons are not able to vote on Election Day.

HJ 59 calls for a constitutional amendment to be put before the voters allowing for early voting. Early voting will have the following positive outcomes:

  • Having additional days before Election Day will give far greater number of voter’s ample time to get to the polls.
  • Polling places will have shorter lines on Election Day.
  • Parents of pre-voter age children will have greater opportunity to take their children with them to vote, modeling and instilling the importance of voting.
  • Individuals who may have difficulty getting to the polls due to health or transportation issues will have greater opportunity to arrange to vote.
  • Voters who are caregivers will have greater opportunity to schedule time to vote.
  • Individuals who commute out-of-state will have greater opportunity to get to vote.
  • Increasing access to voting will strengthen voting turnout and encourage greater participation in our democratic processes.

The 2020 election had record voter turnouts, including 650,000 voters who voted early using an absentee ballot. Nearly 80% of CT voters support early voting. Early voting by absentee ballot and ballot drop-boxes went smoothly and was highly successful. This is the way all of our elections in CT should be run.

This Resolution is only the first step toward making voting a greater priority through early voting. A vote in favor of this Resolution moves the process forward, and if ultimately successful, letting the voters (those who can vote on Election Day) choose if early voting is desired.

Voting is a right and should be made as flexible as possible to assure maximum participation in the State’s electoral process. NASW/CT urges passage of HJ 59.

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