"Connecticut has the most restrictive absentee ballot laws in the country, and the coronavirus has exposed how that restrictiveness can threaten our democracy," said Secretary Merrill. "The legislature can and should fix this permanently when they come into session in the summer by removing the most restrictive language from the statute."Legally it looks like there is ample justification already in Connecticut law to make this possible, with one tiny exception. In a recent op-ed, Merrill stated the following:
In today’s situation, that more restrictive language in the statute makes it more difficult for people to get a ballot to mail in the face of the fear of a global pandemic. The Constitution reads “due to sickness” while the statute reads due to “his or her illness.” Those three words, “his or her,” in the statute but not in the Constitution, are the reason why we cannot vote by mail this November if we want to avoid polling places and a possible fall wave of the coronavirus.This seems easily doable, with the exception of the most vocal Trump supporters who will absolutely claim that this will lead to massive voter fraud. Which is a bullshit argument, for these following reasons:
The legislature can fix this for the short term very easily when they meet this summer to vote on budget adjustments and coronavirus relief. All they have to do is remove the words “his or her” from the statute 9-135, so that the language of the statute matches the language of the Constitution.
1) Voting by mail has been successfully used for many decades by soldiers stationed overseas. There have been very, very few instances of fraud; and pretty much any time a vote was found to be questionable, it was usually because of an honest mistake and not part of a huge conspiracy.
2) If it was SO goddamned easy to manipulate an election through voter fraud, don't you think the powerful right-wing groups funding most of the bullshit tactics of Trump fans wouldn't enthusiastically engage in making sure there were MILLIONS of fake votes for their candidates? They wouldn't hesitate even one nano-second before creating a voting fraud cabal designed to take advantage of whatever imaginary voting loophole the conspiracy nuts think exists!
3) The main reason conservatives hate voting by mail is that it will ensure a much higher participation in elections. And THAT is their biggest fear! Why do you think so many red states are closing polling places in urban areas and enacting draconian voter I.D. laws? Because making it difficult or impossible for minorities to vote will only help their candidates. Republicans don't want anything resembling a fair election because they will get crushed! This is why Mitch McConnell refuses to allow a vote on the bill to protect election security. McConnell would rather have foreign interference and foreign hacking in our elections if it helps keep his party in power.
And it will be much easier to vote, and will actually save voters time and money:
Secretary Merrill previously announced that all voters will be receiving applications for absentee ballots; those applications will explain the law in light of this interpretation of 9-135. As previously announced, the Office of the Secretary will pay for the postage for the applications, their return, the ballots, and the ballots' return, so that absentee ballots can be used without cost to the voters or the towns.
This is obviously the way to go. I look forward to seeing this happen.