Connecticut should continue its enormous progress in expanding mail voting. By passing a constitutional amendment to make no-excuse absentee voting permanent, Connecticut can give its citizens the opportunity to vote in whichever manner they find safest and most convenient.
Connecticut can reduce costs and increase voter convenience by expanding its permanent absentee voting list, where voters can sign up to automatically be sent an absentee ballot for each election without having to re-apply. Expanding Connecticut’s permanent absentee option to all residents rather than just disabled voters would save the state significant expenses by cutting down on the requests it needs to process; on average, states save $1 for every request they no longer need to process.
Simplifying the return process for a ballot is just as important as simplifying the request process. While Connecticut prepaid postage for the 2020 elections, the state should make prepaid postage permanent for all future elections.
We highly recommend creating vote centers, or polling locations where any voter in the county can vote. This is a way to streamline the system so over time, as the share of the vote cast by mail increases, counties can have fewer overall polling locations, while individual voters will have more voting location options. Additionally, we recommend including provisions to allow for ballots to be received at polling and vote centers, as well as other locations deemed necessary by the clerk, as a low cost way to increase return options.
Accepting ballots with Election Day postmarks is a best practice to ensure that voters are given all options to vote their ballot promptly, and is estimated in most jurisdictions to decrease ballot rejection rates by half. We recommend that not only does a state allow the physical postmark on a ballot, but also to integrate into the USPS system for electronic postmarks to serve as validation that a ballot was mailed on time.
As the use of absentee ballots increases, it is important to make sure that the ballots received are being filled out by the individuals they were sent to. Signature verification procedures ensure the security of the election process while also streamlining ballot processing.
If a voter’s ballot is rejected, said voter should have the ability to cure any fixable errors with their ballot quickly and simply. As more voters use absentee ballots and, understandably, the number of rejected absentee ballots increases, we recommend implementing a Text2Cure system that allows voters to cure their ballots from their phones.
With a drastic increase in mail ballots, Connecticut has a great opportunity to reach for the gold standard of post-election security by implementing risk-limiting audits.
Connecticut can increase voter confidence by making permanent and improving its ballot tracking that allows voters to track their ballot much like an Amazon package. Advanced ballot tracking systems can proactively notify voters when their ballot takes a new step in the path from being sent to them to finally being counted (or rejected). If a ballot is rejected, these ballot tracking tools can be used as another method to contact voters if there is a signature mismatch or deficiency on their return envelope.
Processing mail ballots to get them ready for counting before election day helps get faster election results. Connecticut allowed additional days of preprocessing as a result of the pandemic and is looking to make it permanent in SB5. Preliminary data also suggests that preprocessing helps avoid any blue or red shifts when there are differences in the partisan lean of mail vs. in-person ballots, which could increase voter confidence in the results of elections.