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Governor Lamont promotes the use of absentee ballots

Lawmakers are expected to take up four bills during the session including absentee ballots in November

HARTFORD, Conn — State lawmakers headed back to the Capitol Tuesday for the first time in months for a special session.

Governor Ned Lamont held a news conference at 2:30 p.m. in Windsor to promote the use of absentee ballots during the August primary, and to encourage the state legislature to pass a law giving voters the ability to use absentee ballots as a means of social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic for the November general election. One of the key issues during the special session addresses absentee ballots in November. Gov. Lamont will be joined by Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz and other state and local officials.

Lamont signed a proclamation Friday, July 17, calling the Connecticut General Assembly to meet in a special session.

There are four issues they will take up this session:

  • The first bill is regarding the use of absentee ballots come November for the election.
  • The second is the police accountability bill that the judiciary committee has been working on over the past month. That bill would have significant changes in the way policing is done in Connecticut.
  • The third bill is regarding telehealth. Governor Lamont is looking to require insurance companies to continue covering costs for virtual health visits. 
  • Lastly, the fourth bill that would cap the cost of insulin in Connecticut.

Gov. Lamont signaled in an afternoon press conference that he Lamont would be support dropping the provision on qualified immunity for officers is dropped for in the current bill and revisited at a later date. 

A lawsuit challenging absentee ballots for the upcoming election was dismissed Monday. Attorney General William Tong personally testified in front of the state's supreme court for the dismissal of the suit. 

The attorney general argued the plaintiffs were using the court to disrupt the upcoming elections and to confuse voters about absentee voting. Recently, absentee voting has fallen into political contention due to social distancing guidelines due to COVID-19. 

“No one should have to risk their lives to vote. This case was part of a nationwide right-wing voter suppression campaign challenging the ability of Americans to safely exercise their right to vote during this unprecedented public health crisis. The plaintiffs sued the wrong individual under the wrong statute in the wrong court and we are grateful for the Supreme Court’s adherence to the rule of law,” said Attorney General William Tong. “This office will protect and defend the rights of voters against any and all partisan attacks seeking to stoke chaos, confusion, and fear and disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of Connecticut voters.” 

Cheri Quickmire, Executive Director of Common Cause in Connecticut, "The facts remain: 34 states do not require any “excuse” to vote by mail, even in ordinary times. Of the states that do require excuses, at least 11 of them have already either suspended the requirement or interpreted a sickness or disability excuse to include avoiding coronavirus exposure."

In a news conference last week, Governor Lamont’s Chief of Staff addressed how they’ll be following current social distancing guidelines inside the capital.

“The legislative leaders are working collaboratively to figure out how each chamber will be making their determinations, understanding not only our guidelines of social distancing but also our building guidelines," said Paul Mounds.

Of those four bills, the most debated is police accountability. There has been a lot of back-and-forth about qualified immunity.

Currently, as the bill is written, it would remove qualified immunity for officers here in Connecticut and require them to carry their own personal liability insurance.

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