Voting by mail in Connecticut this year is a fairly straightforward process. We turned to Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, the state's top election officer, for clarity on how to do it.
Secretary Merrill explains everything briskly in our video interview (above). Here is the step-by-step:
Step 1: Apply for an absentee ballot
This year, everyone can vote by absentee ballot. Even if you're not absent.
You need to fill out a simple form and get it to the Town Clerk. You can mail it, or you can put it in a special drop box at Town Hall. The same box can later be used to drop off your ballot.The drop box is preferred. More on that in a second.
If you are a registered voter, you may have already received an application in the mail. Secretary Merrill's office sent one to every registered voter.
If you haven't received one, it should arrive soon. If it doesn't arrive soon, you may want to check your registration status. More on that in another second.
An advantage of the form that was mailed is that it includes a stamped, self-addressed envelope.
But you don't have to wait for the mail. You can download an application right now, at one of these links:
From the State, in English.
From the State, in Spanish.
From the Town Clerk, in English. Not as pretty as the State's, but already addressed to the Town Clerk. (If you use a download that doesn't already have the Town Clerk's address, we provide it at the end of this article.)
Step 2: Fill out the application form
It's simple. Complete the form, sign it, and…
…be sure to check the COVID-19 box, assuming there is no other reason. In Connecticut, you need a legal excuse, like being out of town on election day, to vote absentee. For this election, the Legislature provided one excuse to fit all: the virus.
Step 3: Drop off or mail in the application
Secretary Merrill asks that you please not submit more than one absentee ballot application. It creates more work for the Town Clerks, who are already overburdened.
The drop boxes are safe, secure, and preferred by Town Clerks, says Secretary Merrill. They are ideal for anyone worried about the postal service's delivery capabilities.
Weston's drop box is located at the front entrance to Town Hall. You can't miss it.
Step 4: Receive and submit your ballot
An absentee ballot will be mailed to you, probably during the week of October 5 at the earliest, says Secretary Merrill. In the video, she explains why ballots are not available until then.
That creates a need for speed to get your vote in, which is one reason you have the option to use the ballot drop box. You can also mail it.
Your ballot must be received—not postmarked, received—by 8:00 pm on election day, November 3.
You can track your ballot
Give it some time after submitting, but you will be able to check online at myvote.ct.gov/lookup to make sure your ballot was received.
If too much time goes by and it doesn't appear on the lookup, contact the Town Clerk: (203) 222-2616 or 2617, or the Registrars of Voters: (203) 222-2686.
You still have the option to vote in person
Secretary Merrill said she will vote in person. You can too, at the same place as usual (Weston Middle School) and the usual hours.
But not if you have already filed an absentee ballot.
At about 8 minutes 50 seconds into the video interview, Secretary Merrill explains why absentee ballots are not counted until election day. It's one part of checks and balances that ensure the integrity of the vote. "We've been doing this for a long time," she says. "Hundreds of years, actually."
At the polls, you should expect to see now-familiar preventive measures like plenty of space for social distance, mask requirements, and the like.
You can verify that you are registered to vote at myvote.ct.gov/lookup. If you aren't, or never have, a link on that page will take you to online registration.
Assuming you are qualified, you can register to vote right up to the day before the election. In fact, Secretary Merrill describes a "fail safe" provision that allows you to register on election day.
That usually becomes necessary, she says, when people show up at the polls and, for whatever reason, are surprised to find their name not on the rolls. If that happens to you, you will want help from the Registrars, and will need proper identification. The Registrars want you to vote.
Mailing your application
Remember that, in Connecticut, everything about voting is done locally. Nothing goes to Hartford.
To send your absentee ballot application to the Town Clerk by regular mail, address it to:
Donna M. Anastasia, Town Clerk
PO Box 1007
Weston, CT 06883
Please note that UPS and Fedex don't deliver to post office boxes, so if you use one of them, address it to:
Donna M. Anastasia, Town Clerk
56 Norfield Road
Weston, CT 06883