HARTFORD, Conn. — Gov. Ned Lamont signed a bill Friday that expands the use of absentee ballot voting in Connecticut.
Effective immediately, House Bill 5262 redefines a "sickness" as an acceptable reason for absentee voting. In addition to a personal voter's illness, it would now apply to a voter taking care of someone else's health, such as an ill relative.
“This slight change better aligns our state laws with that allowed under the constitution,” Lamont said in a statement. “We should be doing everything we can to encourage qualified voters to cast a ballot, and this is a responsible step forward in that direction.”
Absentee ballots have seen a rise in use across the state and the country since the beginning of the pandemic and during the 2020 election.
Ahead of the 2020 election, Secretary of the State Denise Merrill sent ballot boxes to each town and city for people to drop off their election ballot.
In a unanimous opinion issued in February 2021, the Connecticut Supreme Court determined that the term “sickness” is not limited to an individual voter's illness. The court also determined it included specific diseases, including the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last spring, lawmakers voted to allow early in-person voting on the 2022 General Election ballot. Voters will get to decide whether to add it to the state Constitution for future elections.
“No voter should ever have to choose between protecting their health and exercising their right to vote,” Merrill said in a statement Friday. “The COVID-19 crisis is still with us, and this legislation will ensure that voters will be able to cast their ballots and make their voices heard.”
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