HARTFORD – In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Lamont today issued an emergency executive order to modify existing Connecticut absentee voting law to allow voters to vote absentee by mail if, at the time of the person’s application to vote absentee, there remains no federally-approved vaccine for COVID-19. The following is a reaction from Kelly McConney Moore, ACLU of Connecticut policy counsel:
“No one should have to choose between protecting their health and exercising their right to vote, and voting by mail is one way to ensure voters do not have to make that choice. Connecticut’s Constitution already provides for absentee voting ‘because of sickness,’ and Governor Lamont has done the right thing by ensuring that clause applies to all voters for the August primary during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We encourage Governor Lamont to work with Secretary Merrill to further protect public health and democracy by creating an online mechanism for people to be able to apply to vote absentee and making sure small mistakes on absentee ballots from voters new to voting by mail can be cured rather than invalidating the whole ballot. As public health experts estimate that physical distancing may remain necessary well into the fall, we also call on the legislature come back into session to pass legislation that extends all voters’ rights to vote absentee by mail to November’s general election.”
The executive order issued by Lamont today modifies Connecticut law to vote absentee by mail because of the “sickness of COVID-19.” A person may use this reason if, at the time of application, there is no federally approved COVID-19 vaccine widely available. The order clarifies that it does not constitute a false statement for a voter to represent they are eligible to vote absentee for sickness of COVID-19. In addition, the order requires the inner envelope for absentee ballot applications to include a notice describing additional absentee voting criteria and grants the Secretary of the State the authority to modify notices, statements, or descriptions on printed, recorded, or electronic material in accordance with the executive order. Under the order, municipal clerks may use an approved third-party mailing vendor to fulfill duties to mail absentee voting materials for the primary.
To access an earlier letter from more than 50 Connecticut organizations asking Lamont to issue an executive order: https://www.acluct.org/sites/default/files/2020-covid19-vote-by-mail-ct.pdf