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Connecticut

Connecticut made commendable progress in expanding access to mail voting in 2020. In preparation for the public’s vote on whether to make no-excuse voting permanent, Connecticut can seize the opportunity in several issue areas to strengthen its election system and make permanent other progress made in 2020. These improvements will bring Connecticut one step closer to a more safe, efficient, and voter-friendly election process. As always, while policies are important, effective implementation is just as important.

As of 2021....

No Excuse Required

No Excuse Required

No excuse to vote by mail

Online Mail Ballot Application

Online Mail Ballot Application

Apply for mail ballot online

Robust Ballot Return Option

Robust Ballot Return Option

U.S. mail, drop boxes, vote centers, and more

Prepaid Postage

Prepaid Postage

Postage-paid return envelopes provided

Election Day Postmark Acceptance

Election Day Postmark Acceptance

Accepts ballots postmarked by Election Day

Ballot Tracking

Ballot Tracking

Online method to check ballot status

Signature Verification

Signature Verification

Voter signature verified before ballot is counted

Cure Process

Cure Process

Ability to correct issues so ballot can be counted

Preprocessing

Preprocessing

Election official may process ballot before Election Day

Note: Connecticut’s no-excuse policy is temporary and only applies to elections in 2021.

Opportunities

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.

Recent Legislation

As of August 24, 2021

In 2020, Connecticut allowed all voters to vote by absentee ballot due to the pandemic and sent absentee applications to all voters. Additionally, the state implemented drop boxes and allowed additional days to preprocess ballots temporarily.

In 2021, the state has striven to continue the progress of 2020 by seeking to pass a constitutional amendment to allow voting by mail without needing an excuse. One of these bills, HJ 58, passed both chambers without 75% support so will need to pass again next year for it to be put on the ballot in the upcoming November election. On a brighter note, a constitutional amendment (HJ59) passed to add early voting and will be put on the ballot for voters to approve in 2022. If voters approve it in 2022, the state will have to implement it with legislation, rules, and regulations. Another bill of interest is SB 5, which codifies many of the temporary changes from 2020 and passed the Senate in May, but as of writing has yet to pass the House. Finally, the state made drop boxes permanent and will build an online absentee request system, as well as extend a variety of temporary measures to the end of 2021, including no excuse absentee voting and preprocessing.