Good Government Groups Applaud Passage of Historic Voting Rights Legislation; Bill to Implement Automatic Voter Registration, Restore Voting Freedom for People on Parole & More

(Hartford, CT) – Today, Connecticut took a major step forward for voting rights by passing the elements of Senate Bill 5 as part of the “budget implementer.” The historic legislation will expand voting rights by implementing automatic voter registration, restoring voting freedom for people on parole, and more, and comes on the heels of the passage of resolutions that bring Connecticut one step closer to allowing for early voting and no-excuse absentee ballots. The bill now heads to Governor Lamont’s desk to be signed into law.

In addition to AVR and restoring voting freedom for people on parole, the legislation:

• Requires employers to give an employee two hours of unpaid time off for state elections and certain special elections if he or she requests it in advance
• Allows people to apply to the secretary of the state for an absentee ballot using an online system, which the secretary must establish and maintain
• Makes permanent the use of drop boxes for returning absentee ballots
• Requires the secretary of the state to provide electors who are unable to appear at their polling place because of a visual impairment with an electronic absentee ballot
• Requires the secretary of the state to implement an e-signature system for most elections-related forms and applications
• Specifies that electors may receive voting assistance in voting booths at designated EDR locations

Cheri Quickmire, Executive Director of Common Cause in Connecticut released the following statement:

“At this exact moment in America, state legislatures across the country are actively curbing the right to vote, putting laws in place in the dead of night to undermine democratic rights and attempting to shred the very fabric of our democracy. Here in Connecticut, we took not just a smart step, but a bold one to move voting rights forward. Automatic voter registration isn’t just massively popular – it will modernize our voting systems. Restoring voting rights for residents on parole will help ensure that Connecticut turns the page on the policies of the past.

“From the critical reforms in Senate Bill 5, to early voting, to no-excuse absentee ballots, this was truly a historic session for voting freedom in Connecticut. We applaud the members of the House and Senate from both parties who stood up for right over wrong and helped move our state into the future.”

Tom Swan, Executive Director of the Connecticut Citizen Action Group, said:

“Over the last year, voting rights across the country have come under attack – from U.S. Postal Service Slowdowns, to bogus claims of election fraud, to a national echo-chamber that continues to promote myths about voting rights. But today, Connecticut sent a message about who we are, what we believe, and who we are fighting for — and we did it at a time when more than a dozen states are actively whittling away at the foundation that underpins our nation: the right to vote.

We expanded democratic rights, standing up for truth over falsehoods and fighting for right over wrong. Years of advocacy, all aimed at moving Connecticut’s voting laws forward, has gotten us to this point, and now these common-sense, bipartisan reforms will go to the Governor for his signature. The voters of Connecticut will reward those legislators who put themselves on the right side of history and helped pass this bill.”