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Connecticut Assembly OKs Early Voting Prop for 2014 Ballot

HARTFORD — Connecticut residents may soon have early voting.

Thanks to the passage of House Joint Resolution No. 36, which calls for an amendment of the state constitution. The House Joint Resolution was endorsed by a vote of 22-14 in the State Senate late Wednesday. The measure passed the Connecticut House on April 17, 2013 and was also approved by both houses of the Connecticut General Assembly during the 2012 legislative session.

The Constitutional question will now appear on the ballot for voters to ratify in Nov. 2014 election.The language will be as such: “Shall the Constitution of the State be amended to remove restrictions concerning absentee ballots and to permit a person to vote without appearing at a polling place on the day of an election?”

Officials said that these types of early voting could be in the form of in-person early voting, no excuse absentee ballots, or mail-in voting.

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy  praised the Connecticut State Senate’s passage of a resolution providing for an amendment to the Connecticut State Constitution empowering the General Assembly to enact some form of early voting.

“Voting is a great responsibility and this amendment assures the voting rights of every Connecticut resident whether or not they can get to the polls on Election Day,”Malloy said. “While some states are working to suppress voter turnout, we are working to encourage greater turnout by increasing penalties on any effort to block voter access and moving our electoral system into the 21st Century.”

Malloy praised Merrill for her effort in bringing early voting to Connecticut.

“Today marks a historic and significant step forward for modernizing elections in Connecticut so we can finally enact early voting in our state,” said Merrill, Connecticut’s Chief Elections official. “This is about allowing Connecticut voters cast their ballots in a way that works better with their busy mobile lives, and in turn getting more voters to participate in Democracy.”

Connecticut joins a growing list os states to enact early voting laws. So far, 32 states have enacted some form of early voting or no-excuse absentee ballots and more than 30 million Americans cast their ballots early in the 2012 Presidential election.

The amendment, House Joint Resolution 36, “Resolution Proposing an Amendment to the State Constitution to Grant Increased Authority to the General Assembly Regarding Election Administration,” would amend the state constitution by removing an 80-year-old provision that restricts absentee voting to those who are absent from the town, ill, disabled or forbidden by their religion from secular activity on Election Day. If passed, the legislature would be able to craft laws making absentee ballots available in more circumstances or without voters needing a specific reason. So called “no excuse absentee balloting” is currently available in a majority of states. The amendment also would remove the requirement that in-person votes be collected on Election Day, a technical change that would permit the legislature to enact some form of early voting or mail-in voting.

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