By Jess Zaccagnino, ACLU of Connecticut Rise PAC
When Connecticut voters cast their absentee ballots or vote in-person on November 8, we will see a question: "Shall the Constitution of the State be amended to permit the General Assembly to provide for early voting?"
The ACLU of Connecticut Rise PAC encourages every eligible voter to vote “yes” on the early voting ballot question.
What does the early voting ballot question mean? A “yes” vote is a vote for Connecticut voters to have the option of early voting.
Right now, Connecticut’s state Constitution restricts voting in a way that means we can’t have early voting. If voters vote “yes” on the early voting question in 2022, that means the legislature would be allowed to pass a law removing that barrier from the Connecticut Constitution. So, if Connecticut voters pass the early voting question, the legislature will have to pass a law to make that happen. The earliest voters would be able to vote early would be 2024.
So whether you’re casting your ballot absentee or voting in-person on Election Day on November 8, vote for racial justice, women’s rights, disability justice, and families by voting for the early voting question. Barriers to the ballot are racist, sexist, classist, and ableist – but every Connecticut voter has a chance to start changing that by saying “yes” to the option of early voting.
A “yes” is a vote for people to have more power at the ballot box.
Connecticut voters are busy, just like voters in most other states.
Early voting would make our voting system more fair by helping to make sure voting isn’t just a luxury for people with more time. Not everyone has the ability to vote during certain hours on a specific Tuesday in November.
There are many reasons why someone may not be able to vote on Election Day.
Connecticut voters are busy. People who lack childcare or paid time off, people with unpredictable work or school schedules, and disabled people face barriers to getting to the polls on Election Day. This is especially true for voters who face interlocking systems of oppression, which combine to mean very little predictably-scheduled, paid, free time off, and who often face long lines and waits at the polls on Election Day.
While absentee voting is an option for some Connecticut voters, absentee voting in our state is severely restricted, meaning most voters, most of the time, aren’t able to vote absentee.
Most other states have early voting options, and it’s time for ours to join the twenty-first century by doing the same.
Connecticut is one of only four states in the country without in-person early voting. A “yes” vote would mean busy Connecticut voters have more options for how to exercise their rights to vote, just like voters in most other states.
A “yes” vote is a vote for racial justice.
Barriers to voting are racist – they most harm Black and Latinx voters in our state, who disproportionately face under-resourced polling locations and long lines on Election Day.
Nationwide, voters in predominantly Black neighborhoods are 74% more likely to wait more than 30 minutes to vote on Election Day than voters in predominantly white areas. In Connecticut, voters in majority Black areas wait, on average, more than 9 minutes longer than voters in majority white areas.
Over the years, voters in predominantly Black and Latinx cities in Connecticut have faced long lines on Election Day. In 2020, one of the most common complaints the ACLU of Connecticut heard from voters was about long lines, like at one precinct in Hartford. In 2016, there weren’t enough poll workers in New Haven, leading to people having to wait for hours to vote. In 2014, 14 polling places in Hartford didn’t have voting lists ready in time when the polls opened, leading a judge to have to extend polling hours. In 2010, 24 out of 25 polling places in Bridgeport ran out of ballots, causing long lines.
Early voting alone will not solve all of the racist barriers to voting that Black and Latinx people face, but it is a start. Early voting could help to ease pressure on Election Day and reduce wait times, especially in majority Black and Latinx precincts.
A “yes” vote is a vote for disability justice.
Barriers to early voting are ableist. Because of systemic barriers, access to polling places and paper ballots alike can be fraught for disabled voters. Nationwide, during the 2020 election, disabled voters were almost twice as likely to experience barriers to voting compared to nondisabled voters.
Disabled people are not a monolith, and early voting would give disabled Connecticut voters more flexibility to use the voting option that best meets their needs.
A “yes” vote is a vote for families and people who are low-income.
Barriers to early voting are classist. People who are low-income are more likely to work in jobs without paid time off or predictable work schedules that can allow people time to wait in line and vote on Election Day.
Nationwide, a study of the 2018 election also showed that counties where people’s incomes shrank over the past decade had fewer election resources per voter, including poll workers, than counties where people’s incomes grew.
Early voting would give voters without paid time off or predictable work schedules, who may also face long lines at under-resourced polling places, the flexibility to make their voices heard at the ballot box.
Early voting is the right thing to do, and most voters in Connecticut and across the country recognize this. Nearly 8 in 10 Connecticut voters (79%) support early voting, including nearly 7 in 10 Republicans (69%), nearly 9 in 10 Democrats (86%), and nearly 8 in 10 unaffiliated voters (79%). The majority of U.S. voters support early voting, with nearly half strongly in favor.
As many states try to restrict voting rights, Connecticut voters have a chance to send a message that we want more fair and equal access to the ballot box. People in Connecticut are rightfully outraged at other states’ attempts to suppress Black voters, and we need to act locally, too, by voting “yes” on the early voting ballot question.
Paid for by the ACLU of Connecticut Rise PAC. This message was made independent of any candidate or political party. Additional information regarding the ACLU of Connecticut Rise PAC can be found on the SEEC website. Top contributors: American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut, Inc.