On May 27, the Connecticut State Legislature voted to send a constitutional amendment to voters in 2022 that would authorize the state legislature to provide by law for early voting. Currently, Connecticut does not permit early voting.
As of April 2021, 38 states and the District of Columbia permitted early voting. Early voting allows citizens to cast ballots in person at a polling place prior to an election. In states that permit early voting, a voter does not have to provide an excuse for being unable to vote on election day.
Cheri Quickmire, the Connecticut executive director of Common Cause, a progressive 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization, said, “We trust Connecticut’s voters will embrace this additional option when it is on the ballot next year. In states that have Early Voting, people use it. In Georgia, for instance, more than two-thirds of November’s voters used in-person early voting to cast their ballots. In Florida, almost half of November’s voters cast their ballots early, in person.”
The Connecticut Constitution provides two paths for the Connecticut General Assembly to refer constitutional amendments to the ballot: (1) a 75 percent vote in each chamber of the legislature during one legislative session, or (2) a simple majority vote (50%+1) in each chamber of the legislature during two legislative sessions.
The constitutional amendment was introduced into the Connecticut General Assembly as House Joint Resolution 161 (HJR 161) during the 2019 legislative session. On April 24, 2019, the Connecticut House of Representatives passed HJR 161, meeting the three-fourths vote required to approve a constitutional amendment during one legislative session. As there was one vacant seat in the House, 113 votes were needed to approve the amendment during one session. The vote on HJR 161 was 125 to 24. On May 8, 2019, the Connecticut State Senate passed HJR 161 by less than the three-fourths vote required to approve an amendment during one session. The vote was 23 to 13. At least 27 votes were required to meet the three-fourths threshold.
As the constitutional amendment was approved during the 2019 legislative session by a simple majority vote in each chamber, legislators needed to approve the amendment again during the 2021–2022 legislative session by a simple majority vote. The amendment was introduced as House Joint Resolution (HJR 59). It was approved by the House on May 6, 2021, by a vote of 115-26 with 10 absent or not voting. On May 27, 2021, the Senate approved HJR 59 by a vote of 26-9 with one absent.
This is the first amendment referred to the 2022 statewide ballot in Connecticut. Between 1996 and 2020, voters approved 71% (5 of 7) ballot measures that appeared on statewide ballots in Connecticut.