Editorial: Connecticut, Make Early Voting A Reality

The Connecticut House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted last week for a resolution that would authorize a referendum to overturn the state’s “no-excuse” early voting policy, which prohibits residents from casting their ballots before election day.

A 125-24 vote, state residents will be asked next year if they want to remove the prohibition on early voting if the Senate agrees by a similar margin, The Connecticut Mirror reported.

Connecticut is only one of 12 states that don’t allow early voting, a luxury that every American should be able to enjoy.

Early voting poses a solution to the biggest problem as to what inhibits American citizens from voting in the first place. Should polls be open prior to Election Day, it allows people who cannot make it there in the allotted time to perform their civic duty.

In Connecticut, polls open at 6 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. If one does not have a vehicle, it will be increasingly difficult to make it to your polling place.

But it is people working that is perhaps the greatest deterrent in voting. Some people simply cannot afford to miss work to vote.

This problem is compounded by the fact that the state also does not have a time-off law to vote. In the state of Colorado, for example, employees can take up to two paid hours of leave to vote, unless they have three hours allotted before or after their shift in accordance with poll hours, per CBS News.

For some, voting means taking an entire day off from work, which is not possible for many Americans that rely on a weekly paycheck just to get by. This is a facet of an even greater issue that is the indirect disenfranchisement of poor people.

Essential workers such as doctors, nurses, firefighters, police officers, active-duty military members and more may also have to work on Election Day, prohibiting them from taking part in the voting process. No one should be punished for having inflexible hours or working a demanding job.

But with early voting, this problem can be entirely avoided, as citizens can vote at a time that is convenient for them.

Aside from that, early voting also increases participant turnout, something Connecticut does well, but could improve on, as only 65 percent of residents voted in the 2018 midterm elections.

Early voting has proved to work, too. Just days before the midterm elections, CNN reported that 33 million Americans, a number they referred to as “explosive,” voted before election day.

If Connecticut wants to see a higher number of its residents take part in the voting process, it needs to work with its people to ensure that every eligible participant has their voice heard in each democratic election. Early voting is the place to start.