Haskell: Ensure Safe, Convenient Voting

A year ago, as Covid-19 cases spiked across the state and nation, our elections transformed to meet the moment. Those who felt comfortable voting in person showed up at their local precinct, while nearly as many cast their ballot from the comfort and safety of their own home. As a result of these changes, Connecticut saw near-record turnout. Democracy adapted and thrived.

One year later, it’s demoralizing to see that Covid-19 remains a threat to the health and safety of our community. While many of us have been vaccinated against the virus, Delta cases are on the rise among those who are unable or unwilling to receive their shots. Although rates of death and hospitalization have improved dramatically, there are still many folks who may not feel comfortable voting in person.

That’s why the General Assembly proactively extended absentee ballot access for the upcoming municipal elections. In 2021, any voter who wishes to participate in their local elections can do so from home. Moreover, voters can continue using the absentee drop boxes that are conveniently located near Town Hall.

We’re facing critical choices this November, from who should lead our town finances to who should oversee our local schools. If you prefer to vote in person, that option is always available to you. And if you prefer to vote from home, you can request an absentee ballot from your local election officials.

These short term fixes are key to preserving democracy during the pandemic, but please know that I plan to continue working toward greater democratic accessibility in the years ahead. In 2022, you’ll have a chance to vote on a constitutional amendment that would bring Early Voting to Connecticut. As a reminder, nearly every other state in the country provides their voters with the chance to participate in elections on a date that is convenient for them.

Additionally, my colleagues and I are working to extend access to absentee ballots for those who want them on a permanent basis. While this reform did not earn enough bipartisan support to appear on the ballot in 2022, we will continue fighting to get it on the ballot for your consideration by 2024.

Our democracy is stronger when more people participate, not fewer. As we prepare for the local elections, we must re-commit ourselves to the mission of democratic government by ensuring that voting is convenient and safe for all. In the upcoming elections, I’m glad that no one will be forced to jeopardize their health in order to vote. In the years ahead, let’s keep working to pass reforms that ensure no one is left behind.

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