Today, the Connecticut General Assembly passed An Act Concerning State Voting Rights in Recognition of John R. Lewis (“CTVRA”) as part of the state budget. The CTVRA is a state-level Voting Rights Act that seeks to expand access to the freedom to vote and strengthen protections against voting discrimination for communities of color throughout the state. The contents of this legislation, which passed the Senate on a bipartisan basis last week as S.B. 1226, has now reached final passage and goes to Governor Lamont for his signature. Once signed into law, the CTVRA will become the most comprehensive state-level voting rights act, setting a new standard for states across the country.
The Connecticut Voting Rights Act’s critical protections include:
- Launching a “preclearance” program requiring local governments with a record or other signs of discrimination to prove that certain voting changes won’t harm voters of color before they can go into effect.
- Providing new legal tools to fight discriminatory voting rules in court.
- Expanding language assistance for voters with limited English proficiency.
- Creating strong protections against voter intimidation, deception, or obstruction.
- Establishing a central hub for election data and demographic information to increase transparency and help Connecticut voters fight for accessible elections.
- Instructing judges to construe state and local laws and rules in a pro-democracy manner to make the fundamental right to vote as accessible as possible.
In response to the final passage of the CTVRA in the state budget, 29 civil rights, voting rights, labor, service, community, and faith-based organizations issued the following statement:
“We thank and congratulate the Connecticut Legislature on the final passage of the Connecticut Voting Rights Act, which takes a major step towards ensuring the right to vote for every eligible voter across the state. We celebrate the collaboration and bipartisan support for the CTVRA, and commend its leading champions, Senator Mae Flexer and Representative Matt Blumenthal, as well as the leadership of the Connecticut Black and Puerto Rican Caucus for their tireless work to get this historic legislation to the finish line.
“Connecticut is poised to become a national leader by serving a critical local need. The passage of this landmark bill is a monumental achievement that is strongly supported by Connecticut voters across race and party lines. It will safeguard the right to vote and build a stronger, more inclusive democracy—both here in Connecticut and across the nation, by serving as a model for other states. By recognizing the urgent need to protect and expand access to the ballot box, Connecticut lawmakers have taken a crucial step towards ensuring that every eligible citizen can exercise their right to vote freely, without undue barriers or discrimination.
“We look forward to Governor Lamont signing the CTVRA into law so that Connecticut will become a leader in safeguarding our democracy and protecting the fundamental freedom to vote.”
More information about public support for the CTVRA is available here, and a report on how the legislation will help Connecticut become a national leader by meeting a critical local need is available here.
ACLU of Connecticut
Alpha Kappa Alpha, Theta Epsilon Omega Chapter
Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund
Bridgeport Generation Now Votes
Collaborative Center for Justice
Campaign Legal Center
Common Cause in Connecticut
Connecticut League of Conservation Voters
Connecticut NAACP State Conference
Connecticut Shoreline Indivisible
CSEA SEIU Local 2001
CT Alliance for Retired Americans
Declaration for American Democracy
Greater Hartford NAACP
Greater New Haven NAACP
Hartford Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc
Hispanic Federation, Connecticut Office
League of Women Voters of Connecticut
League of Women Voters of the East Shore
Make Voting Easy-CT
NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF)
National Association of Social Workers, CT Chapter
Planned Parenthood Votes! Connecticut
Stand Up America