Early voting, or casting a ballot before Election Day, is allowed in some capacity in 37 states as well as Washington DC. Connecticut is one of the thirteen that does not allow early voting, but that may soon change. Connecticut’s Government Administration and Elections (GAE) Committee recently passed a constitutional amendment to allow early voting. The amendment would allow those unable to vote on Election Day to cast their ballots on certain days in the two weeks leading up to the election.
This is an important step for Connecticut to take, as the state has some of the more restrictive voting laws on the books. Not only is early voting prohibited, but an excuse is required if someone wishes to cast an absentee vote. This is something not needed in a majority of states. These are both things that can limit the ease with which people are able to vote, something we should avoid at all costs.
There are many reasons why allowing early voting is crucial. Election Day in the United States is on a not very inconvenient Tuesday. This day was set in 1845 because it was the best time for farmers who had to travel back and forth from market. But it is no longer 1845; 1 in 5 registered voters who did not vote in 2012 said they were too busy or had a conflicting schedule.
Most people work on a Tuesday, and not everyone can get away long enough to vote. Students, especially those who stack all their classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays to get four day weekends, might also have their options restricted. And even if voting was on a more convenient day (or we made Election Day a national holiday), there are always going to be circumstances where someone can’t make it to the polls. With that in mind, early voting allows for people to participate in the democratic process when they otherwise might not be able to.
It is not yet certain whether the final decision on this proposal will rest with the next General Assembly or Connecticut residents themselves. But whoever is deciding on whether to adopt this amendment should consider the benefits that come with early voting; and consider asking why so many other states bothered to implement it.