Election Day is Coming: Consider voting early

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Early voting clerks wear masks as they work together to seal unused voting ballots in their containers Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020, following the daily closing of an early voting polling location in Brownsville, Texas. Election workers have adopted recommended measures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 at polling locations during early voting in Texas. Photo by Denise Cathey/The Brownsville Herald via AP Photo.

With Election Day exactly two weeks away, it is high time for people to begin planning for it. It is pertinent that people register to vote and make plans regarding how they will vote now. Voting early through an absentee ballot is a very good option this year and it is important that students at the University of Connecticut take advantage of this opportunity. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all eligible voters in Connecticut are able to vote via absentee ballots, as COVID-19 is a valid reason for not voting in-person. Those who plan to do this should request an absentee ballot as soon as possible in order to mail it in or drop it off at a ballot box in the proper town or city on time. 

The absentee ballot may be a better option than in-person voting for multiple reasons. Given that the election on Nov. 3 is a presidential election, it is likely the polls will be more crowded than they have been in the past. This is not something that should be taken lightly. 

In 2018, with the midterm election, polls in both New Haven and Mansfield were extremely crowded with people registering to vote as well as voting. Bob Stefanowski, Republican candidate for governor in 2018, raised concerns about a “mass swearing in” of new voters in both New Haven and Mansfield, as technically voters must be registered and votes must be processed by 8 p.m. on the day of the election. Ultimately, Stefanowski did not go forward with any legal action due to the difference being 10,000 votes, which would not have significantly impacted the election results. Still, the fact that polls were so crowded poses a unique problem this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

This screenshot from voterregistration.ct.gov shows how simple it is register to vote online. Screenshot courtesy of voterregistration.ct.gov.

Although polling locations will likely plan for crowds and have social-distancing measures in place, it would be significantly easier and more effective to vote with an absentee ballot as opposed to in-person. With social-distancing measures, it is probable that only a certain number of people will be allowed into the polling place; therefore, voting may take considerably more time than it has in the past. It will be easier and less time-consuming to vote with an absentee ballot. 

Voting early is not difficult either. The first step is to register to vote, which, in the state of Connecticut, can be done through an online portal. Connecticut residents have until Oct. 27 to register to vote. If you have already registered to vote, all eligible voters in Connecticut should have received an absentee ballot application. If you have not received it, it can be found here and must be mailed to your specific town clerk. The address for every town clerk in Connecticut can be found here. The town clerk must receive the absentee ballot application by Monday, Nov. 2. Once the clerk receives this application, they will mail an absentee ballot to you at whichever address you have specified. Upon receiving the absentee ballot, you must fill it out and either mail or deliver it to the town clerk so they receive it by Tuesday, Nov. 3 no later than 8 p.m. Connecticut does allow for ballot tracking, which can be found here

Students should vote early in order to decrease crowd sizes at polling places, and because it is simply more convenient. Election Day is not very far away, and the method of voting is extremely important to consider! 

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