“A Win for Connecticut’s Democracy:” Early Voting, Voting Rights Act Passed

Today the Connecticut Senate and House passed a state budget, including plans for the implementation of both early voting and the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act. 

Common Cause in Connecticut applauds the lawmakers and advocates for their tireless work to pass these voting reforms.

Early Voting

“Overall, the 2023 legislative session was a win for democracy in Connecticut. We’re pleased Connecticut is taking a step toward more accessible and equitable elections by codifying the will of a majority of voters,” said Cheri Quickmire, executive director of Common Cause in Connecticut. “That said, we are disappointed some crucial components of this initiative that contribute to the success of early voting were left on the cutting room floor.”

Because of the inadequate funding, much-needed public education on how to vote early will not happen. The lack of funding means municipalities will only be able to open one early voting site, which will disproportionately impact voters in large urban areas and sparsely populated rural towns.

Quickmire says Common Cause in Connecticut agrees with Secretary Stephanie Thomas: “The directive to fully fund early voting was implicit in voter’s overwhelming support of this ballot measure in 2022. Punting the costs to our cities and towns goes against the spirit of this initiative.” 

The John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act (CTVRA)

“With the passage of this bill, Connecticut will have the strongest voting rights protections in the country. This tremendous effort will have a direct result on voters, and particularly Black and Puerto Rican communities, which have historically been sidelined by restrictive voting laws,” said Quickmire. “Across the country, many state legislatures have passed additional barriers to the ballot box. Today, Connecticut rejected this movement and put voters first.” 

The CTVRA will change Connecticut’s elections by:

  • Launching a “preclearance” program that puts the burden on local governments with records of discrimination to prove certain voting changes won’t harm voters of color before going 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
  • Creating a central hub for election data and demographic information that will empower officials and community members to ensure accessible elections

More on the CTVRA is available here.